The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS C. PLATT
Pursuant to Federal Rules Civil Procedure Rule 59(a)
, the defendants move for a new trial on the issues of damages for pecuniary loss and loss of society. This Court denies defendants' motions. The jury's verdict for plaintiff's financial loss and loss of society is fully supported by credible evidence.
On April 3, 1995, this Court empaneled a jury to hear the case of Faith Pescatore, as Personal Representative and Administrator of the Goods, Chattels and Credits of Michael Pescatore Deceased v. Pan Am World Airways, Inc. and Alert Management Systems, Inc., 89 CV 1789 (TCP). The jury was asked to determine the amount of damages that should be awarded to Mrs. Pescatore for her claim of the wrongful death of her husband, Michael Pescatore, as a result of the wilful misconduct by Pan Am which another jury found to be a proximate cause of the tragic bombing of Pan Am Flight #103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The undisputed facts are that Michael Pescatore graduated from Harvard with a degree in engineering and applied physics in 1977 and from the University of Chicago with a Masters Degree in Business Administration in 1979. At the time of his death in December, 1988, at the age of 33, he had earned the distinction of being the youngest Vice President in the history of British Petroleum ("BP"), where he had been working since he graduated from the University of Chicago. He was in London in December, 1988, preparing to begin work on a new position, at the International Headquarters of BP in London. He was scheduled to start in January, 1989. Not surprisingly, Mr. Pescatore had been specially selected to be a member of the Individual Development Program, an honors program at BP for particularly able young executives.
In accordance with the evidence presented and this Court's instructions, the jury awarded Mrs. Pescatore $ 19,059,040.00: $ 9,000,000.00 for financial loss, $ 5,000,000.00 for loss of society, $ 14,000.00 for losses of services and $ 5,045,040.00 for interest due on the award from the date of Mr. Pescatore's death to the date of judgment.
Arguments that a rapidly rising executive officer, such as Michael Pescatore, would not have contributed, with reasonable foreseeability, $ 9 million to his wife over the ensuing thirty years border on the frivolous. Quite apart from the testimony in the case, to find the jury acted reasonably one need only consider the present compensation for top corporate officers of major corporations similar to British Petroleum. For example: (1) the aggregate compensation over the last three years for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Exxon was $ 9,643,000; (2) the aggregate compensation over the last five years for the CEO of Amoco was $ 9,518,000; (3) the aggregate compensation over the last five years for the CEO of Occidental Petroleum was $ 22,897,000; and (4) the aggregate compensation over the last three years for the CEO of Texaco was $ 7,426,000. Eric S. Hardy, America's Highest-Paid Bosses, FORBES, May 22, 1995, at 180, 200-03.
This Court further notes that compensation for executives engaged in the energy field is well below the monies paid to executives in other fields. The following list of examples represents top annual salaries for executives in a variety of corporate fields: (1) Conseco - $ 39,610,000, (2) Green Tree Firm - $ 28,978,000, (3) DSC Communications - $ 25,249,000, (4) Bear Sterns Cos- $ 15,648,000, (5) Compaq Computer - $ 15,442,000, (6) Colgate/Palmolive - $ 13,460, (7) General Dynamics - $ 12,454,000, and (8) IBM - $ 12,355,000. Id. at 182.
The jury's decision also is very reasonable in light of the specific evidence presented at the trial. Dr. Edward Glaeser, Ph.D., plaintiff's expert, opined that decedent's earnings would grow at an annual rate of 11.6% until he retired at the age of sixty eight.
Plaintiff Exh. 87(a). Dr. Glaeser pointed out that the growth rate of Michael Pescatore's real income between 1984 and 1988 was 16.6% per annum. TR. 582. Decedent's bonuses had increased approximately 400% over his last four years with British Petroleum, beginning with $ 8,800 in 1984 and progressing to $ 34,000 by 1988. Plaintiff's Exh. 109.
Using the percentages above, plaintiff's expert estimated that at a minimum Mr. Pescatore's aggregate future earnings available to his spouse would have been $ 25.5 million. Plaintiff Exh. 105. Dr. Glaeser arrived at that figure by using a base monetary salary of $ 118,901, the salary reported in Mr. Pescatore's 1988 W-2 form, and incrementally increasing that salary based on the raises in compensation the decedent had received. Plaintiff Exh. 105. As the jury's award for loss of compensation was $ 9 million, ...