Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Forensic Economist Expert Liable for Malpractice

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Forensic Economist Expert Liable for Malpractice

Article excerpt

Forensic Economist Expert Liable for Malpractice

Forensic economists who make a mathematical mistake can be liable for professional malpractice, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in a split decision in LLMD of Michigan Inc. v. Jackson-Cross Co., 1999 WL 972180, October 26. The erring economist was not protected by the witness immunity doctrine.

Charles Seymour was retained to compute and present expert testimony as to the damages suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the defendants' alleged breach of a financing commitment. On the basis of computerized computations made by another person in his company, Seymour testified that lost profits were estimated at $56 million. But on cross-examination, it was established that the lost profits calculation contained a mathematical error that destroyed Seymour's testimony. Without expert testimony, the plaintiffs settled for $750,000, while a subsequent calculation from the expert, using correct figures, was $2.7 million.

The plaintiffs sued the expert company for lost profits and reimbursement of the fees it paid for the services. The trial court gave the defendants summary judgment, and this was affirmed by the intermediate appellate court on the ground that the doctrine of witness immunity extends to bar professional malpractice actions against professionals hired to perform services related to litigation. …

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