Jury returns verdict of $2,716,000 for the death of 26-year-old homeless man; total earnings for prior 5 years less than $10,000; survived by two minors; no appeal.
Robert W. Johnson & Associates was retained to present economic testimony, utilizing the accepted and recognized Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) theory, to establish a range of values to assist the jury in calculating the loss of love, care, comfort, society, etc. to the surviving children and mother.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Case: Covin v. City of Inglewood
Court: Los Angeles, California, U.S. District Court, Central District, Court No. CV89-1032 HLH
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Gary S. Casselman, Los Angeles, California
Case Synopsis: Mr. Samuel Covin, Jr., 26, was shot by the City of Inglewood Police, while living in his car. Mr. Covin was the father of two sons, ages 1 and 2, who lived with his common-law wife in her mother’s apartment. He was unemployed at the time of his death and according to government records, his total income for the five (5) years prior to his death, did not exceed $10,000. Yet, he did provide financial support, as well as daily care, love and attention to his children, wife and mother. Both Mr. Covin’s mother and children sued for their loss of his love, care, comfort & society, etc.
Expert testimony: Mr. Johnson’s testimony was based on accepted methods of economic analysis in the field of Human Life Valuation and federal government studies, which provide a range for valuing the intangible value of human life. This range is from $1,600,000 to $8,500,000. Mr. Johnson testified that federal government studies concluded that the WTP dollar values are potentially useful when compensation involves putting a dollar figure on non-financial losses to the deceased or to survivors. Non-financial losses, according to Mr. Johnson, include such elements as love, care, comfort and society, etc.
Attorney Comments: “Since our pecuniary damages in the Covin case were limited, your testimony was vitally important to our case. As for the results, I think the $2.7 million verdict speaks for itself. In fact the juror foreperson told me the rest of the jury wanted to award more than triple that figure.”
Results: The defense offered, pre-trial $100,000 and asked the jury for a defense verdict. The most the defendants had ever paid before for a police incident was $130,000. The jury returned a verdict of $2,716,000 which included lost economic support and the loss of care, comfort, society, etc. to his children and their grandmother.