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Webb v. Omni Block, Inc - 9/6/2007

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds Expert Testimony on Apportionment of Fault Is Inadmissible Under Rule 704.


Plaintiffs were homeowners who sued Omni Block and others when they discovered failures in the block and related products in their home. The jury found for the Webbs, but found Omni only 6% at fault. Omni and the Webbs requested fees and costs under A.R.S. 12-341.01, and the Court awarded fees and costs to the Webbs. Omni appealed and the Webbs cross-appealed.

The Webbs’ cross-appeal challenged the trial court’s decision, under Rule 704, to admit expert testimony on the degree of fault, of a homeowner who acts as his own general contractor, as the Webbs did here. The Court of Appeals held that the expert’s testimony invaded the province of the jury and was inadmissible. Specifically, the Court noted that the testimony as to the percentages of fault among various parties constituted legal conclusions that are barred by Rule 704. The Court further held that such error was not harmless.

The Court reversed the judgment of the trial court and awarded the Webbs their costs and fees on appeal.

Judge Weisberg authored the opinion in which Judges Winthrop and Ehrlich joined.

Posted On: 9/13/2007