Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Bar Association hosts experts to explain how to calculate damages at trial

October 5, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Bar Association and the NYS Trial Lawyers hosted a CLE titled “Building Your House of Damages with Economic Experts.” Pictured from left: Edmond Provder, Kris Kuscma, Ariel Schwarz-Kainz and Glenn Verchick. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Bar Association, with the NYS Academy of Trial Lawyers, hosted a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday titled “Building Your House of Damages with Economic Experts,” in which a team of experts explained the best practices for determining damages at trial.

Glenn Verchick, the program chair for the Trial Lawyers; Edmond Provder, a vocational expert from Occupational Assessment Services; and Kris Kusma, an economic expert from Sobel Tinari Economics, presented.

“These are such excellent experts who share the podium with me,” Verchick said. “They will give their thoughts on economic damages, in particular, vocational rehabilitation experts, life care planners and economists.”

Together, they covered the use of expert testimony to put dollar amounts on various categories of damages including lost wages, lifetime care costs, future medical care costs, household and special care services, loss of fringe benefits and other losses in injury cases.

“My most important tip would be start thinking about this early on,” said Verchick, who mentioned that these experts can often play a critical role in preparing a client for testimony.

“If your client is not properly prepared, they could say something like, ‘Well, it might be nice to go live in Arizona,’” Verchick explained. “That could have a huge impact on the economic numbers because the values in Arizona are not the same as in New York. The other — if you are using an employability expert — question I always hear is, ‘Have you tried to go back to work?’ You want to prep your client on that issue so they can say, ‘Well, here’s the different things I’ve tried.’”

Much of the discussion centered on the damages that need to be considered, including ones that are more typical of New York City. As an example, Kusma explained that when dealing with union workers, an economic expert can help determine how much fringe benefits, such as retirement plans, are worth.

Provder explained his economic house of damages model, which features a physician as the base, a vocational expert as the frame and an economics expert as the roof. He said that a physician is necessary for any case involving injury or malpractice, and an economic expert is necessary to establish values, but pointed out that people shouldn’t overlook vocational experts.

“If you don’t make the frame of your house, the defense will,” Provder said. “They’ll hire me. You’ll come in and bring in an economist. They’ll say, ‘On the assumption that the person can’t work, this is how much their losses will be,’ but you don’t bring in the vocation expert in.

“The defense, who brings in a vocational expert says, ‘That’s well and fine, but I think the guy can work and these are the jobs they can do.’”

The Brooklyn Bar Association will host its next CLE at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17 titled “TUE 17 1031 Exchanges — From Basics to Advanced; Rules, Dos and Don’ts, Things You Cannot Forget, and Things You May Not Know About.”

The Trial Lawyers will be back in Brooklyn on Nov. 3 for the 2017 Annual Update with John Bonina as program chair.

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