Oh, what a tangled (Dr.) Webb Nationwide and USAA are weaving – Hillier v USAA; Politz v Nationwide

Back in news on SLABBED  is Nationwide’s favorite psychiatrist – Mark Webb, M.D., more tangled than ever in Politz v Nationwide and now tangled in Hillier v USAA, too.   Plaintiff’s attorney Tina Nicholson explains just how tangled in a Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Dr. Mark Webb USAA’S Expert.

COMES NOW the Plaintiff, Honora Hillier and moves to exclude the testimony at trial of Mark Webb, a psychiatric expert designated by the Defendant, USAA Casualty Insurance Company (“USAA”). Webb is expected to testify at trial about the extent of Honora Hillier’s emotional distress due to USAA’s failure to properly pay the insurance claim.

Webb’s testimony should be excluded because it is not based on reliable facts or methodology. Webb, a psychiatrist, apparently intends to testify about Honora Hillier’s emotional and/or mental condition although he has neither examined her nor reviewed her medical records. There is absolutely no basis in fact for Webb’s opinions. Moreover, the one relevant opinion that Webb does offer — that Hillier suffered stress as a result of Hurricane Katrina-related events — is not one that requires a medical degree to make.

Webb is a medical doctor and a psychiatrist. His expert report is attached hereto as sealed Exhibit A. Webb’s report states that he was not able to review any of Hillier’s medical records. He requests the opportunity to examine Hillier “to further investigate her psychiatric issues, if any.” However, Webb never examined Hillier.

Webb cannot testify regarding Hillier’s medical condition because he has not reviewed any of her medical records and has never examined Hillier. The only facts which Webb had about Hillier were those that he gleaned from reading her deposition, which was not a medical examination. The deposition transcript apparently only allowed Webb to form the opinion that Hillier had many stressors arising from Hurricane Katrina. One does not have to be a medical doctor to understand that a person who lost her home, her community, her personal property, and her family’s source of income would suffer stress. The jury does not require Webb to explain that to them.

Hillier’s motion lends credibility to Mrs. Politz’s Subpoena Duces Tecum.  How much credibility can not be determined despite Judge Walker only granting Nationwide’s Motion to Quash in part; but, I’d guess a lot – particularly now that Mrs. Politz has filed a Motion to Show Cause and for Contempt for Dr. Mark Webb’s Failure to Produce Documents.

Dr. Mark Webb was hired by Nationwide to perform an independent medical examination of Plaintiff, Helen Politz. On June 22, 2009, Plaintiff filed her [372] Notice of Issuance of Subpoena to Produce Documents, Information or Objects, and attached thereto a subpoena to produce documents directed to Dr. Mark Webb.

The Subpoena Duces Tecum was properly served on Dr. Webb on June 24, 2009. Plaintiff filed her [374] Proof of Service to Dr. Webb on June 26, 2009. Pursuant to the Court’s [348] Order Plaintiff submitted to the examination by Dr. Webb on June 25, 2009. On July 6, 2009, Nationwide filed [376] its Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum stating objections to production of part of the documents requested in the Subpoena Duces Tecum issued to Dr. Webb. On October 9, 2009, the Court issued its [432] Order granting in part and denying in part Nationwide’s [376] Motion to Quash.

The Order specified those documents Dr. Webb was to produce to Plaintiff. ([432] Order attached hereto as Exhibit “A”) As of today’s date Dr. Webb has failed to produce any of the documents as specified in the Court’s [432] Order to Plaintiff. Plaintiff will be severely prejudiced by the failure of Dr. Webb fully produce all of the documents as ordered by this Court. Dr. Webb does not have substantial justification for his refusal or failure to fully and completely produce the documents as ordered by the Court, and has filed no objection of his own, in any event.

In Mrs. Politz’s response in opposition to Nationwide’s Motion to Quash, attorney Kris Carter wrote Webb has a reputation for testifying to exactly what insurance companies want him to.  Webbb’s diagnosis by deposition in Hillier v USAA makes the point.

7 thoughts on “Oh, what a tangled (Dr.) Webb Nationwide and USAA are weaving – Hillier v USAA; Politz v Nationwide”

  1. Nobody on the insurance side respects Walker’s orders (as we have repeatedly documented) – it is a big part of why he is a disgrace to the bench. Nobody respects a lackey for that matter.

    Dr Webb, Dr Aiken….the names change but ‘the profession’ never does.



  2. You’re right about the lack of respect shown Judge Walker’s orders, Sop. Either he doesn’t notice or he thinks no one does. However, it couldn’t be more obvious.

    Nonetheless, Walker has ignored the facts in this case thus far and served Mrs. Politz up to Nationwide on the proverbial “silver platter”. His typical response would be to offer excuses and let Nationwide off the hook; but, Tina Nicholson’s motion will make it harder.

  3. I’m a “little confused” by all of this. It seems to me that the defense attorneys have already caused their clients to incur MORE in attorneys fees dealing with these issues than the plaintiffs will EVER recover for “mental anguish and emotional distress”. The failure of an insurer to honor its contract with the insured no doubt caused anxiety, depression, frustration, anger and other such compensable emotional “harm”, if it can be proved. But it would be the extremely rare case, indeed, if a plaintiff and his or her lawyer attempted to prove a permanently debilitating emotional injury. Even moderate to severe depression can be treated with DRUGS, allowing the “victim” to return to living a normal life (although drugs don’t remove the reasons for the depression), within a few weeks. As a former defense lawyer, I can’t see such damages being worth much more than $5,000 or so, and MAYBE, just MAYBE, $10,000 in a very severe case. So why all the “hoopla” over this?

  4. Ashton typically those damages are from a multiplier from actual and are referred to as extra contractual damages. In addition if there are punis the extra contractual damages are included in the base so they are meaningful.

    Have you been comparing notes with Judge Walker on what he thinks these cases are worth?


  5. IMO, Nationwide doesn’t have enough money to compensate Ms. Politz for what they have subjected her to in the name of “claims handling”.

  6. Geez, just when I thought I’d seen it all, I haven’t! A shrink for the defense? That’s INSANE!! (every pun intended).


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