Tax buyers say Daubert analysis should be applied in bid rigging suit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Feb 28, 2017

Several tax buyers accused of participating in a bid-rigging conspiracy seek to exclude expert testimony, arguing that a Daubert analysis should be applied to the testimonies before the court rules on class certification.

Several tax buyers accused of participating in a bid-rigging conspiracy seek to exclude expert testimony, arguing that a Daubert analysis should be applied to the testimonies before the court rules on class certification.

On Feb. 8, defendants John Vassen, Joseph Vassen and VI Inc. filed a motion for leave to file a reply in further support of their motion to exclude expert Victoria Harper and Dr. Carl Peters.

They are represented in the case by Paul Slocomb of Hoffman & Slocomb in St. Louis.

The plaintiffs disclosed Harper as an expert to provide her conclusions and opinions relating to the St. Clair County Tax sales.

She was deposed on May 12, 2016. The defendants filed a motion to exclude her testimony on July 18.

On Aug. 19, the plaintiffs also disclosed Dr. Carl Peters as an expert for the same purpose. He was deposed on Dec. 2. The defendants filed a motion to exclude his testimony.

Neither motion has been ruled upon.

The defendants included their proposed reply, which states that the Daubert analysis should be applied in this case because of the plaintiff’s motion for class certification.

The defendants argue that the Seventh Circuit has ruled that “when an expert’s report or testimony is critical to class certification, as it is here, a district court must conclusively rule on any challenge to the expert’s qualifications or submissions prior to ruling on a class certification motion. That is, the district court must perform a full Daubert analysis before certifying the class if the situation warrants.”

“Here, while Defendants believe Victoria Harper or Dr. Carl Peters failed to provide any support for Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification, even if the Court has doubts about whether their opinions may be critical to the class certification decision, this Court should make an explicit Daubert ruling prior to ruling on the Motion for Class Certification,” the reply states.

The defendants explain that the court took just one day to grant the defendants motion for leave to file a supplemental exhibit in support of their response in opposition to the plaintiff’s motion for class certification on Dec. 15.

The defendants argue that the court should rule on the motions to exclude Harper and Peters first.

According to the complaint, two couples sued St. Clair County Treasurer Charles Suarez and tax buyers in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on Oct. 17, 2014, alleging a conspiracy similar to one that sent former Madison County treasurer Fred Bathon to prison.

John Bloyer Jr., Adrianne Bloyer, Kevin Dvorak and Kathleen Dvorak, all of O’Fallon, claim the alleged conspirators artificially inflated interest rates at tax sales in 2007 and 2008. They claim Suarez illegally rigged bids at sales of delinquent taxes to enrich Democratic campaign contributors.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois 3:14-cv-1119

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