Robert W. Johnson & Associates was retained to provide economic testimony on a) the present cash value of lost wages, benefits and economic support that Mr. Groth would have provided to his family and b) a framework for punitive damages based on Hyundai Motor Company’s financial wealth, health and economic status.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Case: Connie Groth, et al., v. Hyundai Precision & Ind. Co., et al.
Court: Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for the County of Multnomah, No. 00-09-09219
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Jan Baisch, Baisch & Coletti Trial Lawyers, P.C.
Case Synopsis: On March 5, 2000, Scott Groth, a 30-year-old husband and father of two young children, went to his regular job as a machinist. While operating a lathe distributed by Hyundai, the defendant, a piece of the lathe broke loose, flew out of the machine and struck Mr. Groth in the chest. He was killed almost instantly. In addition to his regular employment, Mr. Groth was a partner in a six-figure home building company. In fact, in the month of his death, Mr. Groth was putting the final touches on a new home for his family.
Expert Consultation: First, Mr. Johnson testified to the decedent’s lost earnings capacity. The total present value of the plaintiff’s lost wages and fringe benefits (as a machinist), and profit from the home building business was over $4,800,000. In addition, Mr. Johnson quantified the present value of the cost of counseling and respite services for the surviving Groth family.
Second, he testified regarding the subsidiary-parent relationship among the various subsidiaries of Hyundai Motor Company and to the financial wealth, health and economic status of the parent company, Hyundai Motor Company. Mr. Johnson, using the defendant's own documents, testified to the ownership links between Hyundai Precision & Ind. Co., Ltd., and Hyundai Machine Tools America, Inc. and the parent company, Hyundai Motor Company. The defense attempted to deny the relationship between the parent and subsidiaries, but Mr. Johnson was able to clearly validate the connection. In regards to financial wealth, health and economic status, Mr. Johnson testified that in 2001 Hyundai Motor Company had $30.1 Billion in sales and $869 Million in net income. The 2001 net worth of Hyundai was $8.7 Billion and the company had $1.7 Billion in cash on hand.
Result: The jury awarded $3.8 Million in compensatory and non-economic damages to Mrs. Groth. In addition, the jury awarded $8.3 Million in punitive damages against Hyundai Motor Company, for a total award of $12.1 Million.