Can You Use Expert Testimony for a Zoning Hearing?

Landfill zoningAmerican Jurisprudence states that it is common to use expert witness testimony at zoning board of appeals hearings, and courts have held that an administrative agency such as a zoning board of appeals can’t disregard competent expert testimony and rely on its own knowledge on issues which the board members have no expertise.  However, representations of lay witnesses don’t necessarily have to be accepted.

Class Certification in Securities Actions: Mortgage Underwriting and Misuse of Discretionary Pricing Authority

Lawsuit filing

Since the onset of our nation’s mortgage crisis, there has undoubtedly been a rise in securities related litigation involving claims of discriminatory practices in mortgage lending and underwriting based upon misuse of discretionary pricing authority, specifically in the wholesale mortgage market. Many of these actions have been brought forth in the form of class actions. This article explores recent decisions occurring at the class certification stage, and the profound implications such rulings have, and will continue to have, on the manner in which similarly situated class actions are litigated.

Property Valuation: Expert Witnesses in Lay Clothing & the Federal Rules of Evidence: Part II: The James River Test

Protperty paperwork and door keys


Part I of this series discussed whether opinion testimony about property valuation should be considered lay testimony under FRE 701 or expert witness opinion, according to FRE 702. This Part addresses a 10th Circuit case that established a test to help make this determination.

In 2011, the 10th Circuit attempted to reconcile what testimony should be admissible with respect to property valuation and what standards should be applied to testifying witnesses. In James River v. Rapid Funding, property valuation testimony was the key issue, and the Court considered whether a vital witness’s testimony should have been excluded, under FRE 701. See James. River Ins. Co. v. Rapid Funding, LLC, 658 F.3d 1207 (10th Cir. 2011). The 10th Circuit provided a clear opinion on the matter, which several other courts have since adopted. See, e.g., Ryan Dev. Co., L.C. v. Indiana Lumber. Mut. Ins. Co., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123524 (D. Kan. 2011).

Property Valuation: Expert Witnesses in Lay Clothing: Trends

Protperty paperwork and door keys


For decades, debates have ensued as to who may give opinion-based testimony in civil litigation with respect to the value of real property.  Property valuation issues have created questions and problems for courts and rule-making bodies, particularly with respect to Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE), namely 701-702.  See, e.g., “Expert Testimony in the Guise of Lay Testimony: Property Valuation,” Federal Evidence Review (May 8, 2011).  A recurring issue in such cases hinges on whether the testimony proffered is lay or expert testimony, under FRE § 701-702.  Confusion has arisen because in certain circumstances, FRE 701 does permit lay witnesses to testify about the value of their property, but many courts have construed the Rules as narrowly as possible, often excluding lay testimony.  As recently as April of 2013, a court was forced to consider whether a debtor was a lay witness or expert, and based on that finding, what portions of the debtor’s statement were admissible versus which parts were barred by hearsay rules, under FRE 703.  Although the court ruled against the debtor, it stated that the matter would be heard at a later date and emphasized that its decision was a tentative ruling only.  See “Instructions For Pre-Hearing Dispositions,” Motion to Value Collateral of Valley First Credit Union, U.S. Bankruptcy Court (E.D. Cal.) (Apr. 2, 2013).

Engineering Expert Witnesses Can Impact Land Use Cases

Land Use Planning refers to a branch of public policy having to do with the regulation of land to be used in an efficient way.  Land use planning has a view to ensure that land is used in a way that supports the physical, economic and social well-being of a community.

Three Causes of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s recent lawsuit against S&P is the latest example of fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis. The mortgage crisis, one of the leading indicators of the U.S. financial crisis that began in 2007, was characterized by a marked increase in foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies. Subprime mortgages refer to mortgages that are risky and are considered to be of a lower quality than mortgages that are relatively secure. The increasing number of delinquencies led to a decline in mortgage-backed securities.

5 Ways to Stay Clear of Mortgage Modification Fraud

An unfortunate side-effect of the foreclosure epidemic is a rise in mortgage modification fraud. As the housing market has plummeted, scam artists have been able to convince desperate homeowners to pay a fee in exchange for false promises of lowering their mortgage or monthly payments.