The Dallas Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion limiting the discoverability of an expert's finances. In this personal injury case, the defendant hired an expert employed by a firm that derived ninety percent of its revenues "from the defense side of the docket." Armed with this information, the plaintiff sought financial information regarding the firm's ties to insurance companies in an effort to demonstrate bias. The defendant objected to the plaintiff's request. The trial court, however, modified the scope of information sought and ordered the defendant to disclose its expert's gross revenues from insurance companies over the past five years. Defendant responded by filing a petition for writ of mandamus.
In an opinion by Justice Ada Brown, the court of appeals first held that Rule 195 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides the scope of discovery related to expert witnesses, does not allow the discovery sought. The Court noted that the Texas Supreme Court has held that while discovery regarding payment received for work performed is allowed, "expansive" discovery to establish financial bias is prohibited. Finally, the Court decided that even if the Supreme Court's opinion in Walker v. Packer survived the enactment of Rule 195 with respect to expert discovery, the discovery was still improper barring other extrinsic evidence placing the expert's credibility in doubt. Because no such evidence was present here, the Court held that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering the discovery. Accordingly, the Court conditionally granted the writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its discovery order. The Court's opinion in In re Central North Construction, LLC can be found at this link.