In a recent opinion by the Honorable Judge Damon R. Leichty of the Northern District of Indiana, the Court barred expert witness David Gibson from testifying on the decedent’s lost wages in a fatal trucking collision case. Defendants, represented by Johnson & Bell, Ltd., motioned the Court to exclude the notorious economics expert who opined that the decedent sustained loss of future earnings in excess of $600,000. (Download the opinion by clicking here)
Gibson utilizes his firm’s own methodology for estimating loss of future earnings called the Vocational Economic Rationale (VER). The VER is a three-step approach. First, Gibson estimates the injured party’s annual earning capacity. Then, he approximates the individual’s presumed worklife expectancy. Finally, he multiplies the figures and adjusts to reach the present value.
Johnson & Bell attorneys criticized every aspect of Gibson’s testimony, starting with his qualifications and then his methodologies. Despite finding him qualified as an economist, the Court ultimately barred Gibson under the Daubert standard. The crux of the Court’s opinion was that his methodologies were “unreliable” and not generally recognized within the economics community.
This is the first time a court has barred Gibson despite his testimony in more than 400 depositions and trials in the past several years. It is especially important for defense attorneys because Gibson is retained as a plaintiff damages expert about 95% of the time. Countless defense attorneys have criticized Gibson for creating unfounded and unsubstantiated wage loss figures for hundreds of cases in recent years. Fortunately, now a court has also raised questions about Gibson’s calculations and economic conclusions.
While the Northern District of Indiana utilizes the Daubert approach, we anticipate that this opinion may still aid attorneys practicing in Frye jurisdictions as the Court focused on Gibson’s lack of support in the economics community. If you have any questions about this development, please contact Edward W. Hearn, Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst or Gregory D. Conforti.