Stafford v. Roadway
If reports of private investigators are not beyond the knowledge of the trier of fact, the private investigators may not qualify as expert witnesses, even if they are well educated, experienced and trained, and the party who arranges to take the depositions of the private investigators may not be required to pay deposition fees. The plaintiff, Joel Stafford, sued the defendants and disclosed private investigators as "expert witnesses," "based on their investigation in this matter as well as their education, experience and training in their field." The plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendants to pay deposition fees for the private investigators, pursuant to Practice Book §13-4(c)(2). The defendants objected that Practice Book §13-4(c) (2) does not apply, because the plaintiff's private investigators do not qualify as "expert witnesses." The Practice Book provides, "Unless otherwise ordered by the judicial authority for good cause shown, or agreed upon by the parties, the fees and expenses of the expert witness for any such deposition, excluding preparation time, shall be paid by the party or parties taking the deposition." Generally, expert witness testimony is admissible, if: 1.) the expert witness possesses a special skill or knowledge that applies to the subject matter; 2.) the expert's skill or knowledge is not common to the average individual; and 3.) the expert's testimony would help the jury. "An expert witness ordinarily may not express an opinion on an ultimate issue of fact, which must be decided by the trier of fact," pursuant to the Connecticut Supreme Court's 2012 decision in State v. Favoccia. Here, one of the private investigators wrote reports in which he indicated doubt about whether the defendants' statements were consistent and truthful. The other private investigator indicated that he did not possess any opinion about the current litigation. "The reports and testimony offered by [the private investigators,]" wrote the court, "would not be beyond the ken of the trier of fact, and . . . would not be admissible as an expert opinion." The court denied the plaintiff's motion to compel the defendants to pay deposition fees.