Case: Lummus vs. County of Imperial, et al.
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Edward K. Madruga, Palm
Case Synopsis: On August 11, 1990, 6-year-old Lindsay J. Lummus attempted to turn off a water faucet situated next to an underground air conditioning unit while standing in mud. When she made contact with the air conditioning unit, she received an electrical shock which caused her death.
Expert Testimony: Robert W. Johnson & Associates was retained to prepare an economic loss report and testify at trial. The firm's associate George A. Booth, III, testified that had Ms. Lummus not been killed, she would have had the earnings capacity of an average high school graduate and could have contributed $117,000 to the future support of her family.
He then testified that, based on Willingness-To-Pay studies used by both academics and federal government agencies, the acceptable range for the loss of the “non-economic” value of life to the decedent’s survivors is from $1,800,000 to a mid-point of $6,200,000.
Mr. Booth stated at trial that economists have concluded that Willingness-To-Pay dollar values are useful in wrongful death cases involving non-economic losses to survivors. Non-economic losses, according to Mr. Booth, include such elements as love, care, comfort, society, etc.
Case Results: The judge awarded $225,000 for the child’s death.
Attorney Comments: “I am ecstatic. In this area you are lucky if you get $10,000 for the death of a child. Your report and testimony were the key factors.”