Cross-Examination of Plaintiff’s Economist By Frank Scahill
Dr. Jeffrey Seidenberg is a Plaintiff’s economist with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. When he, or any economist, takes the stand to testify for the Plaintiff, defense counsel needs a plan to cross-examine the witness. Unless his calculations have no basis in facts, e.g., they do not correlate to the published tables by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an attack on his “numbers” will rarely make a major dent in the projected future and past economic loss. After all, if his projections show future economic loss at $4.6 million, and you are able to show the numbers are actually $3.8 million based on your calculations, what are you accomplishing? A jury is still awarding the plaintiff a multi-million dollar package.
The goal on cross examination of the Plaintiff’s economist is to embarrass him. You need to show the jury this “expert” is trying to hoodwink you with his numbers and his Columbia Ph.D. You can attack the economist on his failure to reveal to the jury that an award is “free of any State or Federal taxes” and, therefore, inflated by 30% or more. Next, if the Plaintiff is receiving benefits, highlight the expert’s lack of candor about the Plaintiff’s current sources of income. Attack the growth rate used for future lost wages in a particular field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will categorize the growth rate and be the standard for reference. Attack the experts claims regarding the loss of household services. What do those numbers mean? Break it down for the jury. What exactly can this Plaintiff not do at home? The direct and cross examination of Dr. Seidenberg is attached. We ended the cross-examination with this exchange:
Q: Your calculations did not discount taxes that Mr. Rivera would be paying during the course of
those 19 years; that’s a yes or no?
A: Did it take into account, no.
Q: Did you also take out of your calculations the amount that Mr. Rivera is receiving as Workers’
Comp benefits which he indicated is $3,200 a month?
Q: Did you take out the amount of benefits Mr. Rivera is currently receiving from Social Security, an amount that he admitted this morning was over $2,000 per month?
Q: Would your figures to this jury — and by the way, I did the calculations on the amount of money that he would be getting, that he is currently getting, it adds up to over $65,000 per year from Workers Compensation and Social Security, would your figure to this jury have been more accurate if you
backed out the amount that he’s already getting?
Q: And you stand by that?
Read the transcript here.