In Dorn v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R.R., No. 03-35071 (9th Cir. Feb. 7, 2005), the the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that hedonic damages testimony by economic experts in personal injury cases is admissible. Since Hawaii is located in the 9th Circuit, it appears that this case applies to the Federal court here. (The Hawaii Supreme has not permitted such testimony.) Although the decision actually overturned a $6.7 million jury verdict in a wrongful death case, the Ninth Circuit did so because it found that the trial court erred in its decision to exclude hedonic damages testimony from the defendant's economic damages expert after allowing such testimony from the plaintiff's expert. The opinion would appear to stand for two propositions: (1) hedonic damages testimony by an economist which projects the value of a human life from the premiums paid for safe products, safe occupational conditions, etc. is admissible in Federal Court here and (2) a ruling that one expert's testimony is reliable under Daubert does not necessarily imply that an opposing expert's contrary opinion must be unreliable.
Game Truck Georgia was recently hit with a $4.7 million judgment for injuries arising out of a game of "bubble soccer". But this was after they had pleaded with their insurer to settle those same claims for a pretrial offer of $1 million - which was within their policy limits. Their insurer, Atlantic Specialty Insurance, declined those offers and forced the case to trial. Now the attorneys for Game Truck Georgia are chasing their own insurance company for its bad faith refusal to settle - a refusal which led to the insolvency and desctruction of their business.
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