McKnight v. Poteat
OPINION AND ORDER: Accordingly, the Court hereby ORDERS as follows: 1) Classic Auto Body's motion in limine (DE 48) is DENIED as follows: a. the motion is DENIED as moot to the extent it seeks to exclude the testimony of Mc Knight and Bruce Hall regarding the costs of completing the restoration; and b. the motion is DENIED to the extent that it seeks to exclude the testimony of Hall regarding the reasonableness of the amounts that Classic Auto Body has charged for the restoration. Signed by Judge Karen K. Caldwell on 11/30/2017.(RC)cc: COR
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
SOUTHERN DIVISION --- LONDON
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:15-82-KKC
OPINION AND ORDER
CLASSIC AUTO BODY RESTORATION &
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This matter is before the Court on the motion in limine filed by defendant Classic Auto
Body Restoration & Rods, Inc. (DE 48).
The root of this dispute is a verbal contract to restore a 1969 Pontiac Firebird. The
parties disagree about what the terms of the agreement were. Plaintiff Herman McKnight
alleges that, in 2013, he met with Ron Poteat, owner of defendant Classic Auto Body
Restoration & Rods, Inc. (DE 38-6, Poteat Dep. at 8) and that Poteat told him he could
restore McKnight’s Firebird for around $50,000. He asserts that the parties agreed on that
price. (DE 53, Pretrial Mem. at 1.) In 2013 and 2014, McKnight made payments to Classic
Auto Body totaling $85,000, which he argues should at least be sufficient. Nevertheless, he
alleges that Classic Auto Body will not return the car to him. The Court assumes that
McKnight asserts that Classic Auto Body breached the contract between the parties by
failing to return the car to him in restored condition after payments totaling $85,000.
Classic Auto Body, on the other hand, asserts that the parties agreed that McKnight
would pay it $65 per hour and the retail value of any replacement parts until the
restoration was complete. (DE 45, Pretrial Mem. at 2.) Classic Auto Body argues that
McKnight still owes it $32,281.48 for work it has performed on the car. It asserts a
counterclaim for breach of contract for that amount. In addition, pursuant to Virginia and
Kentucky statutes, it asserts it has a lien on the Firebird and is permitted to keep the car
in its possession until McKnight pays the balance owed.
In a previous opinion focusing on the kinds of damages that McKnight may seek, the
Court ruled that, assuming McKnight proves his breach of contract claim, he is entitled to
the cost of completing the restoration.
Classic Auto Body moves the Court to prohibit both McKnight and his expert, Bruce
Hall, from testifying as to the cost to complete the restoration. In response, McKnight
states he himself does not intend to testify as to the cost to complete the restoration.
McKnight also states that Hall will not testify as to the cost of completing the
restoration of the vehicle. Instead, Hall will testify that the amounts charged by Classic
Auto Body and the amounts it claims McKnight still owes are “patently unreasonable in the
old-car restoration industry.” At a pretrial conference, Classic Auto Body indicated it also
objects to this proposed testimony.
Classic Auto Body argues that Hall’s testimony is not based on “reliable methodology.”
It argues that Hall conceded in his deposition that there are no set standards in the
industry. Likewise, in his report, Hall states, “There are no set standards in the
restorations industry for either quality of work or hours needed to perform the tasks needed
to reach the final goal.” He states, “There is a large variance based on the quality of the
final product and the availability of component parts.” With regard to the 1969 Firebird at
issue in this case, Hall states, that, generally the parts are readily available and that it
would be a “basic restoration.”
Thus, Hall appears to opine that the reasonableness of the charges in restoring a classic
car depends upon the particular project. He is qualified to offer this opinion. McKnight
states that Hall has reviewed photographs of the car before the restoration, inspected the
car, and reviewed Classic Auto Body’s invoices and itemized work statements and has
concluded that the time Classic Auto Body took for the job was “entirely unreasonable.”
Classic Auto Body does not appear to dispute that Hall has relevant experience in the car
restoration industry, including as the owner and operator of a car restoration company.
Classic Auto Body may certainly test Hall’s opinion on cross examination but it has not
provided sufficient grounds to exclude the testimony in its entirety.
Accordingly, the Court hereby ORDERS as follows:
1) Classic Auto Body’s motion in limine (DE 48) is DENIED as follows:
a. the motion is DENIED as moot to the extent it seeks to exclude the testimony
of McKnight and Bruce Hall regarding the costs of completing the
b. the motion is DENIED to the extent that it seeks to exclude the testimony of
Hall regarding the reasonableness of the amounts that Classic Auto Body has
charged for the restoration.
Dated November 30, 2017.
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