Can opposing counsel require an expert witness to produce his 1099s as part of a discovery request? In Estate of Jackson v. Billingslea, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ordered an accident reconstruction expert to produce 1099’s for himself and his business.
Jackson involved deaths resulting from a speed police chase.
Dr. Jerome Eck produced an expert crash-preconstruction report. Opposing counsel sought copies of all IRS form 1099s issued to Eck or Eck Engineering LLC for any company they rendered an expert opinion for within the last five years.
Eck retained his own counsel, who submitted a motion for a protective order.
The court granted the motion in part, ordering Eck to produce the 1099s after making certain redactions. It reasoned:
Notwithstanding decisions from other district courts to the contrary, Eck’s 1099s for this and other litigants are within the scope of discovery. Chauvin, Burger, and Great Lakes make it clear that the Court considers 1099s and similar financial documentation relevant to impeachability and thus discoverable. However, certain personal information can be redacted from 1099s, as it was in Chauvin.
The percentage of income informs the jury about how dependent the expert is on the income from providing those services, whereas gross income reveals the expert’s total monetary incentive to produce favorable results. One can imagine a scenario where an expert’s percentage of income from providing expert witness services is low, but he still receives substantial amounts of money for them. Thus, the two pieces of information are not interchangeable as Behler and the movants suggest, and there is no compelling reason to deviate from the Court’s past decisions finding both within the scope of discovery.
The movants’ argument that requiring experts to disclose 1099s would induce a chilling effect is also unpersuasive. While some potential experts may be dissuaded from providing services to litigants, those fears are likely assuaged because sensitive information can be censored. Social security numbers and other federal identification can normally be redacted from the expert’s documents as in Chauvin.
Eck’s 1099s for this and other litigation are within the scope of discovery. Sensitive personal information unrelated to bias may be redacted.
The full opinion is available here: