Diamond Consortium, Inc. v. Manookian
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER. Plaintiffs Motion to Strike the Expert Designation of Martin Rapaport (Dkt. #246) is hereby DENIED. It is further ordered that an extension is GRANTED to amend the disclosure for Defendants expert designation of Martin Rapaport in accordance with Rule 26(a)(2)(B) within ten (10) days of this order. Plaintiffs may depose Rapaport regarding the opinions included in the written report. Signed by Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III on 7/10/17. (cm, )
United States District Court
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
DIAMOND CONSORTIUM, INC.; DAVID
BRIAN MANOOKIAN; CUMMINGS
MANOOKIAN, PLC; BRIAN CUMMINGS
Civil Action No. 4:16-CV-00094
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike the Expert Designation of Martin
Rapaport (Dkt. #246). Having considered the pleadings, the Court finds the motion should be
On February 3, 2017, Defendants Brian Manookain (“Manookian”), Brian Cummings
(“Cummings”), and Cummings Manookian, PLC served their First Amended Expert Disclosure
(the “Amended Disclosure”) (Dkt. #246, Exhibit 1). The Amended Disclosure designates Martin
Rapaport (“Rapaport”) as an expert witness as follows:
Mr. Rapaport is a non-retained expert on matters concerning the diamond industry,
specifically diamond grading standards and practices. Mr. Rapaport has expert
knowledge of the different grading laboratories and their practices, namely EGL-I
and GIA, which form the basis of the underlying claims between Defendants and
Plaintiffs. Mr. Rapaport, should he be called to testify at trial, will be expected to
testify regarding the matters set forth in his article “Honest Grading” published in
(Dkt. #246, Exhibit 1 at pp. 5–6). Plaintiffs argue Rapaport should not be treated as a non-retained
expert in this case, and even if he could, his expert designation does not comply with Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(C).
On June 9, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the pending Motion to Strike the Expert Designation of
Martin Rapaport (Dkt. #246). On June 23, 2017, Defendants filed a response (Dkt. #259). On
June 30, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a reply (Dkt. #275).
Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides for the admission of expert testimony that assists
the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. Fed. R. Evid. 702. A
district court must make a preliminary determination, when requested, as to whether the
requirements of Rule 702 are satisfied with regard to a particular expert’s proposed testimony. See
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-93 (1993). Courts act as gatekeepers of
expert testimony “to make certain that an expert, whether basing testimony upon professional
studies or personal experience, employs in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that
characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field.” Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526
U.S. 137, 152 (1999). The party offering the expert’s testimony has the burden to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that: (1) the expert is qualified; (2) the testimony is relevant to an
issue in the case; and (3) the testimony is reliable. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590-91.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B) states that the disclosure of a witness must be
accompanied by a written report, “if the witness is one retained or specially employed to provide
expert testimony in the case or one whose duties as the party’s employee regularly involve giving
testimony.” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(C) governs the disclosure requirements for
other expert witnesses, mandating that the “disclosure must state: (i) the subject matter on which
the witness is expected to present evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, 703, or 705; and
(ii) a summary of the facts and opinions to which the witness is expected to testify.” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 26(a)(2)(B). “Courts require a party seeking to avoid producing a full expert report to show the
proposed expert is not required to submit a report.” Eagle Oil & Gas Co. v. Travelers Prop. Cas.
Co. of Am., No. 7:12-CV-00133-O, 2014 WL 3744976, at *7 (N.D. Tex. July 30, 2014).
Retained or Non-Retained Expert
Plaintiffs contend the Court should treat Rapaport as a retained or specially employed
expert under Rule 26(a)(2)(B) because he does not have first–hand knowledge of any of the
specific events giving rise to this matter. Plaintiffs state that as a Rule 26(a)(2)(B) expert, Rapaport
was required to submit a written expert report. Defendants respond that Rapaport is a non-retained
expert under Rule 26(a)(2)(C). Defendants state they do not have a compensation agreement with
Rapaport and Rapaport did not form his opinions regarding diamond grading in anticipation of
litigation, but in the course of his ordinary employment and professional training (Dkt. #259 at
p. 7). The Court finds Rapaport should have been designated as a specially employed expert under
“The distinction between retained and non-retained experts should be interpreted in a
common sense manner.” DiSalvatore v. Foretravel, Inc., No. 9:14-CV-00150-KFG, 2016 WL
7742996, at *2 (E.D. Tex. May 20, 2016) (citations omitted). “A retained expert witness is an
expert who, without prior knowledge of the facts giving rise to litigation, is recruited to provide
expert opinion testimony.” Id. A witness is “specially employed” under Rule 26(a)(2)(B) when
“he has no personal involvement in facts giving rise to the litigation, but is engaged to provide
opinion testimony, regardless of whether he is compensated or simply volunteers.” Tolan v.
Cotton, No. CIV.A. H-09-1324, 2015 WL 5332171, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 14, 2015).
“Rule 26(a)(2)(C) addresses the disclosure of expert witnesses who were involved in the
events leading up to litigation and may testify both as an expert and as a fact witness.” LaShip,
L.L.C. v. Hayward Baker, Inc., No. 15-30816, 2017 WL 829503, at *6 (5th Cir. Mar. 1, 2017). A
non-retained expert’s testimony under Rule 26(a)(2)(C) “arises not from his enlistment as an
expert, but, rather, from his ground-level involvement in the events giving rise to the litigation.”
DiSalvatore, 2016 WL 7742996 at 2; See also Eagle Oil, No. 7:12-CV-00133-O, 2014 WL
3744976, at *8 (N.D. Tex. July 30, 2014) (holding that an expert should have been designated as
a retained expert required to submit a written report because the expert was not a healthcare
professional, an employee of a party, or individual with first-hand knowledge of the issues in the
litigation); Skyeward Bound Ranch v. City of San Antonio, No. SA-10-CV-0316 XR, 2011 WL
2162719, at *2 (W.D. Tex. June 1, 2011) (stating that “requiring less of an expert who is not
retained or specially employed is logical because that type of witness usually has firsthand factual
knowledge about the case”).
Defendants have not met their burden of demonstrating Rapaport is a non-retained expert
under Rule 26(a)(2)(C) who is not required to submit a written report. Rapaport does not have
ground-level involvement in the events giving rise to the litigation. Defendants themselves state
that his expert opinion is based on his ordinary employment and professional training (Dkt. #259
at p. 7). Although Defendants do not have any compensation agreement with Rapaport, see Dkt.
#259 at p. 6, he nonetheless qualifies as a witness “specially employed” under Rule 26(a)(2)(B)
because “he has no personal involvement in facts giving rise to the litigation.” See Tolan, 2015
WL 5332171, at *1. Although Rapaport did not form his opinions in anticipation of litigation,
Defendants recruited him to provide expert opinion testimony in this case. Defendants were
therefore required to disclose a written report complying with the requirements of Rule
Whether the Expert Witness Should be Excluded
Plaintiffs argue the Court should strike Rapaport’s expert disclosure because he did not
submit a written report in accordance with Rule 26(a)(2)(B).
“Under Rule 37(c), if a party fails to provide information or identify a witness as required
by Rule 26(a) or (e), the party is not allowed to use that information or witness to supply evidence
on a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial unless the failure was substantially justified or harmless.”
Broxterman v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 4:14-CV-661, 2015 WL 11072132, at *2 (E.D. Tex. Oct.
19, 2015) (citations omitted). “The determination of whether a Rule 26(a) violation is justified or
harmless is entrusted to the broad discretion of the district court.” Id. When evaluating whether a
violation of Rule 26 is harmless for purposes of Rule 37(c)(1), the court looks to four factors: (1)
the explanation for the failure to disclose; (2) the importance of the testimony or evidence; (3)
potential prejudice to the opposing party in allowing the testimony or evidence; and (4) the
possibility of a continuance or extension to cure such prejudice. Id.
The Explanation for the Failure to Disclose
Defendants maintain that Rapaport is a non-retained expert and is not required to provide
an expert report (Dkt. #259 at p. 6). Defendants seem to rely on the fact that they do not have a
compensation agreement with Rapaport for their assertion that he is a non-retained expert.
The Court believes Defendants did not provide additional reasoning for not including the
required expert report because Defendants believed they did not have to. However, Defendants
must still adhere to the required disclosures under Rule 26(a)(2)(B). The Court will grant an
extension for Defendants to properly disclose Rapaport’s expert report under Rule 26(a)(2)(B).
See Broxterman v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 4:14-CV-661, 2015 WL 11072132, at *3 (E.D. Tex.
Oct. 19, 2015). The report must be limited to the subject matter outlined in Rapaport’s article.
Plaintiffs may depose Rapaport regarding the opinions included in the written report.
Importance of the Testimony
Defendants state that Rapaport will testify regarding matters in an article authored by him,
including a description of “why using EGLI as a grading laboratory deceives consumers and
misrepresents diamond quality.” (Dkt. #259 at p. 2). Defendants state that Rapaport will opine on
why “the use of third-party grading reports that overgrade diamonds should be discouraged with
mandatory disclosure requirements to all buyers, including consumers.” (Dkt. #259 at p. 2).
Defendants state “[t]hese opinions directly rebut Diamond Doctor’s contentions in the lawsuit.”
(Dkt. #259 at p. 2).
The Fifth Circuit has noted that the more important the witness, the more the factor weighs
in favor of allowing late designation. Broxterman, 2015 WL 11072132, at *4 (E.D. Tex. Oct. 19,
2015). The Court finds that Rapaport’s testimony will be important to Defendants, particularly to
defend against Plaintiffs claim for Defamation, Tortious Interference with Prospective Business
Relations, and Business Disparagement. An extension is appropriate for Defendants to disclose
adequate written reports as required by Rule 26(a)(2)(B).
Potential Prejudice to the Opposing Party
The purpose of Rule 26(a)(2) is to provide an opposing party with fair notice of the content
of the expert’s testimony. Plaintiffs assert they will be prejudiced by the increased time and
expense of preparing for unknown testimony from the improperly disclosed expert witness.
Defendants allege that the content provided in the original report and in Rapaport’s article gives
Plaintiffs fair notice of the content of Rapaport’s testimony.
In February 2017, Plaintiffs received notice that Defendants designated Rapaport as a nonretained expert and received the article setting forth the matters on which he is expected to testify.
Rapaport’s article describes in detail Rapaport’s opinions regarding EGLI diamond grading.
Defendants assert that Rapaport’s testimony will be limited to his opinions on diamond grading
outlined in his article. Although this disclosure is not adequate under Rule 26(a)(2)(B), the Court
does not believe Plaintiffs will suffer significant prejudice if Defendants are granted an extension
to disclose a full expert report reflecting these previously disclosed opinions. Further, Plaintiffs
are permitted to depose Rapaport regarding the opinions in the expert report.
The Possibility of an Extension to Cure Such Prejudice
An extension is the preferred means of dealing with a party’s attempt to designate a witness
out of time. Campbell v. Keystone Aerial Surveys, 138 F.3d 996, 1001 (5th Cir. 1998). “The goal
of imposing the sanction of striking an expert witness is not to ameliorate prejudice, but rather to
punish the offender and deter future dilatory conduct.” Broxterman, 2015 WL 11072132, at *4.
Plaintiffs argue that the Court already extended the parties’ expert deadlines and the
deadline to designate and disclose rebuttal experts passed more than four months ago (Dkt. #246
at p. 9). Although these deadlines have passed, the Court finds that granting an extension to allow
Defendants to produce Rapaport’s full written report, limited to the subject matter outlined in his
article, will clarify which matters in his article he will testify about and allow Plaintiffs to prepare
It is therefore ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike the Expert Designation of
Martin Rapaport (Dkt. #246) is hereby DENIED. It is further ordered that an extension is
GRANTED to amend the disclosure for Defendants’ expert designation of Martin Rapaport in
accordance with Rule 26(a)(2)(B) within ten (10) days of this order. Plaintiffs may depose
Rapaport regarding the opinions included in the written report.
SIGNED this 10th day of July, 2017.
AMOS L. MAZZANT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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