The First Department determined defendant’s motion to preclude plaintiff from offering his expert’s report and to turn over the materials relied upon by the expert was properly denied in this stairway slip and fall case:
“Preclusion of expert evidence on the ground of failure to give timely disclosure, as called for in CPLR 3101(d)(1)(i), is generally unwarranted without a showing that the noncompliance was willful or prejudicial to the party seeking preclusion” … . “Prejudice can be shown where the expert is testifying as to new theories, or where the opposing side has no time to prepare a rebuttal” … . * * *
Here plaintiff withheld information about an expert he retained and who performed a comprehensive inspection and report before the demand for expert disclosure was served, failed to disclose this in response to such demand, and continued to withhold such information over the course of many court conferences and the years that the case was pending. He offers no excuse for his delay or for having served a response to defendant’s expert disclosure demand that was arguably misleading.
However, when plaintiff eventually did disclose the expert, it was not on the eve of trial … . His disclosure was made on or about March 9, 2018, about six weeks before the originally-scheduled trial date of April 30, 2018, a lead time further expanded with the court’s 60-day adjournment … . Moreover, notwithstanding defendant’s claims to the contrary, plaintiff’s expert did not advance a different theory of liability from that which plaintiff had previously advanced. * * *
Defendant also fails to show grounds to disturb the court’s denial of its motion to direct plaintiff to turn over materials relied on by his expert. Defendant claims it is entitled to these materials because, given the passage of time, any expert it would retain now would not be inspecting premises that resemble the premises at the time of the accident. However, defendant does not adequately explain its failure to timely retain an expert of its own. Rivera v New York City Hous. Auth., 2019 NY Slip Op 08366, First Dept 11-19-19