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SHATKIN v. MCDONNELL DOUGLAS CORP.

June 13, 1983

JANE S. SHATKIN, as EXECUTRIX of the Estate of LLOYD J. SHATKIN, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
McDONNELL DOUGLAS CORPORATION and AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: POLLACK

DECISION AND ORDER

 MILTON POLLACK, DISTRICT JUDGE:

 Plaintiff has made an offer of the proof taken by question and answer out of the presence of the jury following the qualification of Dr. Edmund Mantell as an economics expert. The witness purported to establish projections to be delivered to the jury concerning the pecuniary injury to plaintiff resulting from the death of her son.

 The Court has carefully considered the exhibits and testimony that present Dr. Mantell's opinion and the basis for that opinion.

 The Court finds that Dr. Mantell's assumptions and techniques of calculation involve egregious and gross error at almost every step. The testimony is not competent, has no evidentiary value and no reasonable juror would be justified in relying on or according any weight to it whatsoever. To permit the jury to hear it would amount to irretrievable prejudicial projections of an unfounded character and hopelessly prejudice the fairness of the trial.

 Accordingly, the testimony of Dr. Mantell, other than as already stated to the jury, is excluded.

 The following are the most flagrant defects in the assumptions and techniques of analysis employed by Dr. Mantell:

 No. 1. The single most improper assumption in support of the alleged expert opinion is the assumption that the decedent would have devoted 20 percent of his disposable income under Hypothesis A or up to 26.8 percent of his disposable income under Hypothesis B to the support of his mother. *fn1"

 There is no evidence in the record to support such an assumption. The only evidence of decedent's financial support of his mother is his transfer to his mother of an annuity created by his father for the decedent's benefit which was to expire within a period of his life or ten years, whichever was sooner. The annuity was in the amount of $96.01 per month or approximately 6 percent of the decedent's income.

 Moreover, even if the air crash had not occurred, the annuity payments would have ceased in 1979. There is no evidence in the record to support an assumption that the decedent would have made up the annuity payments out of his earnings once they were terminated.

 Dr. Mantell's opinion is based on an assumed contribution of far greater proportions. In fact, under Hypothesis A, Dr. Mantell assumes that the decedent would have found a job with substantially higher pay in 1987 in order to maintain his mother's standard of living. There is no evidence in the record that the decedent would have transferred from the original occupation that he engaged in to a national enterprise or that he could obtain such a position or that he would have desired to do so.

 These assumptions are no more than conjecture and wild speculation. An expert's opinion that is founded in conjecture that is inconsistent with the record has no evidentiary value and must be excluded.

 No. 2. Dr. Mantell tries to support his choice of a 20 percent contribution by stating a head of a household of modest income spends approximately 20 percent of his disposable income on himself. The decedent's projected income was far from modest and the percentage of his disposable income that he would spend on himself does not at all indicate what he would have spent on his mother.

 In all events, the decedent's actions prior to his death belie the assumptions made by Dr. ...


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