Response to Motion in Limine to Exclude Economist’s Testimony

This is a brief in response to a defendant’s motion in limine to exclude the expert witness testimony of an economist. The economist was disclosed in a wrongful death case arising out of the drowning of a three-year-old boy. The economist is expected to testify about the present value of the child’s loss of earning capacity.

Obviously, with a child so young there is very little empirical evidence to establish the child’s likely career path. The economist was asked, then, to simply address the likely present value of the child’s earnings had he graduated high school and entered the workforce, and alternatively had he graduated college and entered the workforce. We are prepared to prove the child’s likely success in life through other witnesses, to let the jury decide his probable earning capacity, and to let the economist explain how to calculate that in today’s dollars.

The Defendants moved to exclude the economist’s testimony in part because he did not have a sufficient basis on his own for the assumptions of educational achievement. The Defendants also moved to exclude his testimony because the economist’s original report did not include a deduction for personal maintenance expenses, which the Defendants’ termed as “mandatory” under the Tennessee Supreme Court’s holding in Wallace v. Couch. A careful reading of Wallace and Tennessee evidentiary law on expert witnesses demonstrates the Defendants in our case were wrong.

We hope this brief will assist you in addressing similar issues in the future. We have faced this issue several times in the past and the defendant’s motion has been denied everytime. We hope that the same thing will occur this time. Indeed, if the defendant is correct, how can one ever prove the economic component of the pecuniary value of the life of a young child? The model described above condemns the child to “average;” should a court deny the jury access to information about the average child?

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