Opinion:Cross v. Littleton, 2021 OKCIV APP 31
Subject matter:Evidence; Small Claims 
Date Decided:May 26, 2021; Mandate Issued: July 21, 2021
Trial Court:District Court of Lincoln County, Judge Mueller
Route to this Court:Appeal from final judgement of small claims court.
Facts:Cross filed a Small Claims Affidavit alleging that Littleton was indebted to him for $7,181.12, plus costs and attorneys fees for the diminished value of his vehicle following an automobile accident caused by Littleton. Cross presented expert testimony regarding the diminished value of this vehicle. The expert testified that even though good workmanship was used to fully repair the vehicle, major damage to a vehicle such as was present in this case limits the marketability of the vehicle. The vehicle, he testified, had a diminished value of $7,181.12. Littleton objected to the introduction of expert testimony in a small claims case, but presented no witnesses or exhibits and demurred. The court entered judgment of $6,456.07 in diminished value, attorney fees of $4,427.50, and costs of $284.14. Littleton appealed. 
Standard of Review:Judgement will not be reversed based on a trial judge’s ruling to admit or exclude evidence absent a clear abuse of discretion. 
Analysis:The judge in a small claims action has enormous discretionary power to render fair, impartial and speedy justice. The appellant contended that because no discovery is allowed in a small claims case, it is improper to allow expert testimony. However, the Appellant was aware well in advance of trial that the plaintiff intended to present expert testimony and the Appellant had been provided a copy of the expert’s report prior to trial. If the Appellant wanted to invoke formal civil procedure and undertake discovery regarding the expert witness and his opinion, the Appellant should have asked the trial court to transfer the case to another docket pursuant to 12 O.S.Supp.2017 § 1757(A). 
Vote:Wiseman, P.J. (author), Barnes, J. and Fischer, V.C.J. (sitting by designation), concur. 
Other: Certiorari not sought.