May 18, 2015

Business Expert Witness On Negative Interest Rates Part 1

In The New Frontier of Negative Rates and Banking, business expert witness Douglas E. Johnston writes:

While financial market observers in the US remain focused on the timing and magnitude of the Fed raising target interest rates over the months ahead, European bond markets have begun to experience just the opposite – the never-before-seen phenomenon of actual negative bond market interest rates. Since the Global Crisis of 2008, which saw both the Fed and foreign central bankers seeking both to calm markets and to encourage growth by reducing rates to the ‘zero bound,’ interest rates for bellwether German bonds and across Europe in late 2014 crossed into negative territory, and for the first time in world history. As noted recently by iconic market veteran Art Cashin, now Director of NYSE Floor Operations for UBS Financial Services, over 30% (approximately $2.2 Trillion) of the highest-rated sovereign debt in Europe now bears a stated negative interest rate. Over 70% of all German government bonds now carry negative stated rates, and there are indications these conditions may become even more wide-ranging and spill over to US markets. After more than six years of various central bank ‘Quantitative Easing’ (QE) stimulus programs including scheduled open-market bond purchases, negative interest rates now clearly constitute the ‘new frontier’ of central bank monetary policy. Numerous other policy implications regarding negative rates are still unfolding in an uncharted scenario, which even the founder of modern monetary theory, John Maynard Keynes, did not foresee.

In an environment of ultra-low and negative rates, non-interest-bearing asset classes including commodities should become more attractive. Therefore, one major historical disincentive to buying oil and gold, for example, may have been removed. Stated differently, increasingly negative interest rates should be positive for commodities, because the imbedded math suggests that an investor is effectively paid to hold them, as compared to holding negative-rate financial instruments.

Negative Rate Policies Have Major Implications for Commercial Banks

On the surface, negative interest rates represent a confusing and counter-intuitive ‘new math’ which can be difficult to grasp. Stated plainly, at least $2.2 Trillion of European bond investors are now paying for the guaranteed right actually to lose principal, and to receive back less than they have invested. This highly unusual scene seems to tell us that at least some sophisticated institutions are perhaps embracing the loss of some principal by investing with various sovereign governments, rather than face the loss of even more principal by making other types of investments. Viewed from a slightly different but equally important commercial bank perspective, negative rate monetary policy also seems very plainly to encourage far more aggressive commercial bank lending activity. Negative rates may serve to penalize banks which do not lend, or at least which do not lend to businesses in sufficient volumes to promote desired growth.

Bank lending to businesses has long been regarded as the grease of the wheels of commerce and growth since the days of Adam Smith. Unfortunately, for today’s central bank growth advocates, many commercial banks have been more reluctant to lend into the slowing-growth economies of the US and Europe, where lending activity has been essentially flat over much of the past five years, as compared to the higher-growth economies of the BRICS and other countries. Risk-averse banks have, in a way, preferred to lend their surplus funds to low-risk governments rather than to higher-risk businesses, yet now they may be penalized and urged to shift out of the lower-risk status quo. By adding a mathematical penalty to banks in the form of negative interest rates, the new paradigm thus has added implications which appear to run directly opposite to the risk-averse Basel I-III bank capitalization and risk guidelines which were introduced in 1985. The Basel Accords now carry the effective weight of core bank regulatory guidelines around the world. They are already well known and widely followed by and among the FDIC and metropolitan banks, as well as by virtually all community banks across the US. Changing the risk focus of central bank lending guidelines which have been built steadily and by global consensus over the past thirty years is certainly no small thing to consider.

Doug Johnston (through Five Management, LLC) is an expert witness in banking/lending and an investigative business consultant specializing in Commercial Banking & Lending, Private Equity, and International Banking.


May 11, 2015

Slip, Trip & Fall CEU Program

Slip, trip and fall expert witnesses may testify and provide reports regarding railings, barriers, slip and fall accidents, slippery conditions, stairs, and more. Architect and expert witness Randy Atlas is presenting the CEU program Slips, Trips, and Falls: The Architect's Role in Mayhem on May 20th in Pembroke, Pines FL. Mr. Atlas is the President/Owner of Atlas Safety & Security Design. Sponsored by AIA Fort Lauderdale, the program description is as follows:

Have you ever been brought into a lawsuit as a result of a slip and fall at one of the building's you designed? Randy Atlas, President and Owner of Atlas Safety & Security Design, will show you how to reduce the opportunity for mishaps in your designs in such areas as level changes and miscommunications in pedestrian path of travel. He will also go over the consequences of careless design with case studies of projects where mistakes led to litigation. More information here.

February 8, 2015

New Zoloft MDL Pharmaceutical Expert Witness

Zoloft MDL presiding Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, E.D. Pa., granted the plaintiffs motion to present a new pharmaceutical expert witness. Hundreds of Zoloft birth defect lawsuits have been filed. The antidepressant manufactured by Pfizer is tied to an increased risk of defects like persistent pulmonary hypertension in infants. Other serious side effects include seizures, heart defects, autism, and malformations of the skull or brain.

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania website: About MDL 2342.
This Multidistrict Litigation ("MDL") was created by Order of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ("MDL Panel") on April 17, 2012. The typical case involves claims by a plaintiff from anywhere in the United States against defendant Pfizer, Inc., and may name other defendants as well.

In its April 17, 2012 Order, the MDL Panel found that the actions in this MDL "involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation."

The MDL Panel noted that the actions "involve allegations that Zoloft, a prescription medication approved for the treatment of depression and other ailments, causes birth defects in children when their mothers ingest the drug while pregnant." Pfizer and the other defendants deny these allegations. The Panel further found that "[c]entralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary."

Official contacts are as follows:

Presiding Judge: The Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe
Secretary/Civil Deputy: Velma T. White
Courtroom Deputy: Erica Pratt
United States District Court
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Courtroom 12A
James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse
601 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Telephone: (267) 299-7490
Fax: (267) 299-5077

Plaintiffs' Liaison Counsel: Stephen A. Corr, Esq.
Stark & Stark, P.C.
777 Township Line Road
Suite 120
Yardley, PA 19067-5559
Telephone: (267) 759-9684
Fax: (267) 907-9659
E-mail: SCorr@Stark-Stark.com

Defendants' Lead and Liaison Counsel: Mark S. Cheffo, Esq.
Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
51 Madison Ave.
22nd Floor
New York, NY 10010
Telephone: (212) 849-7000

Plaintiffs' Steering Committee Co-Lead Counsel:
Dianne M. Nast, Esq.
NastLaw LLC
1101 Market Street
Suite 2801
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: (215) 923-9300
Fax: (215) 923-9302

Mark P. Robinson, Jr., Esq.
Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc.
19 Corporate Plaza Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Telephone: (949) 720-1288
Fax: (949) 720-1292

January 11, 2015

Food Safety Expert Witnesses & Bidart Bros Recall

Food safety expert witnesses may consult on food borne illnesses, food handling, restaurant industry standards, and food poisoning. This week Bidart Bros. expanded an apple recall to include all granny smith and galas shipped from its Shafter, Calif., facility after two strains of Listeria monocytogenes were confirmed in the apple processing plant. The bacteria are believed to be the same ones associated with the 2014 outbreak that killed seven people and sickened many more. The recall first targeted packaged caramel-coated apples but the recall has been broadened to all shipments of Bidart Bros. Granny Smith and Gala apples.

On 1/10/15 CDC.gov posted:

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.

People at higher risk for listeriosis include adults 65 years or older, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.

On January 6, 2015, Bidart Bros. of Bakersfield, California voluntarily recalled Granny Smith and Gala apples because environmental testing revealed contamination with Listeria monocytogenes at the firm’s apple-packing facility.

On January 8, 2015, FDA laboratory analyses showed that these Listeria isolates were indistinguishable from outbreak strains by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).

Listeria isolates from whole apples produced by Bidart Bros., collected along the distribution chain, were also indistinguishable from outbreak strains by PFGE.

Consumers should not eat any recalled Granny Smith and Gala apples produced by Bidart Bros., and retailers should not sell or serve them.

Consumers who are buying or have recently bought Granny Smith or Gala apples can ask their retailers if the apples came from Bidart Bros.

Consumers should not eat commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that were recalled or made with Bidart Bros. apples, and retailers should not sell or serve them.

Happy Apples, California Snack Foods, and Merb’s Candies each announced a voluntary recall of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples after hearing from Bidart Bros. that there may be a connection between Bidart Bros. apples and this listeriosis outbreak.

Consumers who are buying or have recently bought commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples can ask their retailers if the apples came from Bidart Bros.

Consumers who are unable to determine whether their commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples were made with Bidart Bros. apples should throw them away.

As of January 10, 2015, a total of 32 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes had been reported from 11 states.

Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, and seven deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least three of these deaths.

July 28, 2014

Oncology Expert Witness On Malpractice Insurance Part 2

In Malpractice Premiums Drop for 6th Straight Year, oncology expert witness Dr. Judy L. Schmidt writes:

86% of Rates Decreased or Did Not Change

The MLM survey analyzes malpractice insurance rates charged by carriers in markets that range from entire states to single counties. The publication asks insurers to quote their standard rates for policies with limits of $1 million for an individual claim and $3 million in any given year for all claims. Rates published by MLM, effective as of July 1, are not necessarily what physicians pay, because insurers apply a variety of credits, debits, and other factors that raise or lower the dollar amount.

Insurers lately have been liberal with credits, reducing rates for physicians who take a risk-management seminar or use an electronic health record system, said Karls. Such credits probably have lowered rates by an additional 2 or 3 percentage points in 2013.

MLM collected hundreds of premium quotes that represent 65% to 75% of the medical liability insurance market. In a virtual replay of 2012, 57.6% of the 2013 quotes remained the same from the year before, 28.8% decreased, and 13.7% increased, usually by less than 10%.

The survey includes rate information for 7 states with patient compensation funds designed to lower the cost of malpractice coverage. Every physician in the state pays a surcharge into the fund in addition to buying minimal coverage from a private insurer, said MLM editor Michael Matray. Acting essentially as a reinsurer, the compensation fund boosts the coverage — in some states to the $1 million/$3 million level. The rates that MLM reports for these states are the sum of physician surcharges and premiums.

Rates for Internists Range From $3375 to $47,707

As in previous years, the MLM report reveals where malpractice litigation is red hot and where it is blue-green cool. Premium rates, after all, are based on an insurer’s claims experience in a given locale.

The most expensive premiums for a $1 million/$3 million policy for internists once again turned up in Miami-Dade County, Florida. There, the Doctors’ Company quoted a rate of $47,707. The nation’s lowest rate for internists was $3375, quoted by ProAssurance Wisconsin Insurance for the entire state of Minnesota.

The New York counties of Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island are home to the highest rates for obstetrician-gynecologists — $227,899 from Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers. On the low end is a quote of $16,240 from Cooperative of American Physicians (CAP) for ob/gyns in mid-California. The quote is on top of CAP membership dues of $440 each year.

For general surgeons, quoted rates range from $190,829 from the Doctors’ Company for Miami-Dade County to $10,868 from MMIC Group for Wisconsin.

Information on prognostic risk and a treatment for advanced RCC
A self-guided learning program will discuss profiles adapted from actual poor-risk patient cases, clinical trial data, and resources for you and your patients.

Read more: Quality Cancer Care

July 15, 2014

School Crisis Preparedness Expert Witness On School Attack Plots

At the Safe Havens International website, school crisis preparedness expert witness Michael S. Dorn writes on school attack plots. Dorn is Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center.

School Attack

A Minnesota teen revealed to police the extent of his plans for a school attack. His plan was to “destroy everyone”. He planned on entering Waseca Junior and Senior High School, throwing Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs. When the SWAT team arrived, he planned on killing himself.

He planned on killing his family as well, as he “wanted as many victims as possible”. He acknowledged that they had done nothing wrong, that he had not been bullied, and claimed mental illness as the source of his violent fantasies. He worked to hide them from others, especially his family.

School Attack Analysis

Here we see another school attack plot based upon Columbine, the unholy gift that keeps on giving. Like other school attacks, the perpetrator was going to kill himself at the first sign of armed opposition. Like other school attacks, the plan was to involve explosives, seeking a high body count.

According to audio tapes of his interrogation, the attacker hid his plans from everyone, yet there were You Tube videos posted showing him playing with knives and experimenting with homemade explosives. This is called leakage, and is one of the warning signs to look for...

Schools should be training their staff to look for these warning signs, and should have multidisciplinary threat assessment teams to evaluate students that exhibit clusters of signs. The US Department of Education has created a great tool, along with the U.S. Secret Service. Schools can conduct a threat assessment inquiry, in which the school seeks to assist the student. They can also conduct a threat assessment investigation, for those times in which a threat has been made.

In either case, the goal is to get as many qualified, trained minds working on the assessment as possible. This assessment requires a working relationship with local first responders. It also requires a lot of coordination.

Plan well, plan ahead.

Read more: safehavensinternational.org.

June 28, 2014

Pyramid Scheme Expert Witness On Herbalife

Pyramid scheme expert witness Dr. William W. Keep was in the news this week urging SEC chief Mary Jo White to intensify the investigation of Herbalife. The FTC recently closed pyramid scheme BurnLounge, the New York City online music store and Dr. Keep, business dean of the College of New Jersey, recommended that multilevel marketing companies submit their enforcement policies to regulators every five years. Herbalife is a global nutrition company founded in 1980. The company has over 7,400 employees worldwide, and its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange with net sales of $4.8 billion in 2013.

Herbalife.com commented on the recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its decision in FTC v. BurnLounge, Inc. Herbalife issued the following statement:

Today's decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the FTC v. BurnLounge, Inc. validates product consumption by participants as a legitimate measure of demand for multi-level marketing companies and rejects Bill Ackman's fundamental thesis against Herbalife. This ruling from one of the country's most influential courts is consistent with Herbalife's position that the widespread demand Herbalife has demonstrated for its products, by members and non-members alike, confirms that it is a multi-level marketing company with proper business practices.

SEC.gov describes pyramid schemes:
In the classic "pyramid" scheme, participants attempt to make money solely by recruiting new participants into the program. The hallmark of these schemes is the promise of sky-high returns in a short period of time for doing nothing other than handing over your money and getting others to do the same.

The fraudsters behind a pyramid scheme may go to great lengths to make the program look like a legitimate multi-level marketing program. But despite their claims to have legitimate products or services to sell, these fraudsters simply use money coming in from new recruits to pay off early stage investors. But eventually the pyramid will collapse. At some point the schemes get too big, the promoter cannot raise enough money from new investors to pay earlier investors, and many people lose their money. The chart below shows how pyramid schemes can become impossible to sustain.

Perhaps the most publicized pyramid/Ponzi scheme is that of Bernard Madoff who made an admission to his sons that his investments were "all one big lie." As of December 2008 the losses were estimated to be $65 billion, making it the largest investor fraud in history.


January 20, 2014

Explosions Expert Witnesses & Grain Handling Facilities

Explosions expert witnesses may consult regarding dust explosions, flammable materials, combustion, and associated matters. On Monday, an explosion at the International Nurtrition animal feed processing plant in Omaha caused part of the facility to collapse and sent more than ten employees to the hospital. OSHA writes:

The grain handling industry is a high hazard industry where workers can be exposed to numerous serious and life threatening hazards. These hazards include: fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment.

Grain dust explosions are often severe, involving loss of life and substantial property damage. Over the last 35 years, there have been over 500 explosions in grain handling facilities across the United States, which have killed more than 180 people and injured more than 675.

October 26, 2013

Carnival Rides Expert Witnesses & NC Fair Accident

Carnival rides expert witnesses may consult on carnival ride maintenance, amusement park safety, and carnival ride accidents. A ride new to the North Carolina State Fair malfunctioned Thursday night and injured five people. The Vortex began running as riders were exiting the carnival ride and some people were thrown to the ground. North Carolina Labor Department ride inspection chief Tom Chambers says his department is reviewing a safety switch that malfunctioned earlier in the week. Mechanical equipment and the operation of the ride will be investigated.

October 17, 2013

Accident Reconstruction Expert Witnesses

Accident reconstruction expert witnesses may advise regarding collision analysis, crash worthiness, traffic accident reconstruction, and injury reconstruction issues. Middlesex County, NJ, authorities are investigating a fatal automobile accident that has been classified as a suicide-homicide. A 15 year old driver crossed over into oncoming traffic and killed two passengers in a second car. An eye witness said the driver was speeding and authorities report a lack of skid marks which indicate he did not try to stop.

October 14, 2013

Child Psychology Expert Witness On Child Trauma

Child psychology expert witness Dr. Bruce D. Perry spoke October 7, 2013, at the annual conference of the Stanislaus County (CA) Family and Domestic Violence Council. Dr. Perry is the Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy in Houston and an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University in Chicago. He spoke on the psychological effects of violence on children and said counselors who work with abused children need to understand that violence changes how the brain develops and functions.

Dr. Perry has served as a consultant and/or expert witness on the Oklahoma City bombing, the Waco siege, the YFZ Ranch custody cases, and the Columbine High School massacre.

October 4, 2013

Finance Expert Witness & Michael Jackson $1.5B Trial

A Los Angeles jury reached a decision that AEG Live was not responsible for Michael Jackson's death. Jackson's family was seeking $1.5B in economic damages during the five month lawsuit. AEG Live's finance expert witness estimated that Michael Jackson would have earned $21M if he had completed a worldwide tour and a Las Vegas show. AEG's lead attorney Marvin S. Putman is a partner in O’Melveny & Myers LLP's Century City office and a member of the Business Trial and Litigation Practice. He described Michael Jackson as making "some bad choices." "It was Mr. Jackson, not AEG Live, that chose Conrad Murray."

September 24, 2013

Adoptions Expert Witness & High Profile Adoption Case

Adoptions expert witnesses may assist with disputes involving adoptive parents, child support obligations, custody, and more. In a high profile adoption case, 4-year-old Veronica was returned to her adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco after living with her biological father for 18 months. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that although Dusten Brown invoked the Indian Child Welfare Act to gain custody of Veronica, he had to return her to her adoptive parents.

September 23, 2013

Business Expert Witnesses & Hudson News Lawsuit

Business expert witnesses will testify in Samantha Perelman’s lawsuit against her uncle James Cohen over the Hudson News business legacy. Perelman, daughter of billionaire Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman, claims that Cohen used undue influence to transfer sizable portions of the Hudson News business from his father, Robert Cohen, to himself and changed his will so that Perelman was entitled to little inheritance.

Hudson News began as a newspaper and magazine wholesale business and grew to a retail chain of newsstands in airports and train stations.

September 20, 2013

Forensic Pathology Expert Witness Presents CLE Program

Forensic pathology expert witness Dr. Judy Melinek is presenting a 3 hour course for Continuing Legal Education entitled "Science on Your Side: Forensic Experts in the Courtroom" for California attorneys on October 12, 2013 at the UCSF Mission Bay Campus. Dr. Melinek, a forensic pathologist who works for the Alameda Sheriff-Coroner, will speak on the interpretation of injuries in criminal and civil cases. She will be followed by lectures given by a forensic toxicologist and a forensic psychologist, who will speak on drug level interpretation and sex offender cases, respectively. The lectures will be of particular interest to criminal defense attorneys and wrongful death/personal injury attorneys.
Flyer: www.pathologyexpert.com/CLEFlyer.pdf

Dr. Melinek is a board-certified forensic pathologist who was recently re-appointed as an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSF and is working with the Department of Pathology educating Pathology Residents and Fellows about neurotrauma. Her most recent publication is about being an ethical expert witness and was published by Academic Forensic Pathology. She has been qualified as an expert more than 100 times in both Federal and local courts.

August 31, 2013

Sports Medicine Expert Witnesses & NFL $765M Settlement

Sports medicine expert witnesses may provide reports on professional athletes, sports injuries, exercise physiology, traumatology, and related matters. In the news, the NFL will pay $765M to former players who accused the league of hiding the dangers of brain injury in playing pro football and profiting from the violence (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, MDL No. 2323).

Read more: http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/13d0728p.pdf

August 15, 2013

Correction Facilities Standards Of Care Expert Witness On Inmate Death

Correctional facilities standards of care expert witness Gene Miller testified in the death of inmate Shannon Finn. Finn is believed to have died of alcohol withdrawal while in the Warren County Regional Jail, KY. Finn's survivors are suing Warrren county, the jail's former medical director and deputy jailers for negligence resulting in his death.

Read more: http://www.bgdailynews.com.

August 14, 2013

Expert Witness Profiler Offers Expert Challenge Predictor

Expert Witness Profiler, LLC, the country's leader in expert witness research, announced today the addition of the "Expert Challenge Predictor" feature to its Preliminary Screening Report product. With this new feature, the Preliminary Screening Report will now be able to predict instances of challenges to a particular expert's testimony which the company's legal researchers are likely to find.

Read more: http://www.watchlistnews.com.

August 2, 2013

Industrial Hygiene Expert Witness Testifies In Asbestos Exposure Case

Industrial hygiene expert witness Fred W. Boelter testified in the case against Garlock Sealing Technologies in Bankruptcy Court, W.D.N.C.. The trial will determine the liability of Garlock for current and future asbestos claims. Fred W. Boelter, CIH, PE, BCEE, has nearly 40 years of experience in industrial hygiene, environmental engineering and risk management with expertise in examining asbestos exposure stemming from gaskets.

June 25, 2013

Explosions Expert Witnesses & IN Grain Dust Explosion

Explosions expert witnesses may consult on chemical explosives, magnetic explosions, steam boiler explosions, and dust explosions. In the news, an explosion at an Indiana grain bin southeast of Chicago left one worker dead. LaPorte County police say James Swank may have been the victim of a grain dust explosion at the Union Mills Co-op. A dust explosion is the fast combustion of dust particles in an enclosed area.