Roach v. Dixie Gas Company et al. - 2011 - Vance Gives Opinion of Zero Damages
CHARLES ROACH AND JOYCE ROACH V. DIXIE GAS COMPANY; BEN THOMAS WILLIAMS, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS OWNER AND MANAGER OF DIXIE GAS COMPANY; SEMSTREAM, L.P.; SANTIE WHOLESALE OIL COMPANY, A DIVISION OF BLUE RHINO RELIABLE PROPANE; AND JOHN DOES 1 THROUGH 10
An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hardeman County
No. 06-02-0140 J. Weber McCraw, Judge
No. W2010-01496-COA-R3-CV - Filed November 14, 2011
“Finally to rebut the economic conclusions of the Plaintiffs’ economist, Dr. Bates, the Defendants proffered the testimony of William Robert Vance (‘Mr. Vance’), a forensic accountant and business evaluation analyst. To prepare his analysis, Mr. Vance reviewed the Roaches’ pre-April 2005 tax returns, their bankruptcy documents, and their business records, as well as Dr. Bates’ report. Mr. Vance noted that the Roaches’ business ventures in the three-year period prior to the Dixie Gas incident had continually lost money.
Mr. Vance was sharply critical of Dr. Bates’ ‘economic potential’ projection that, were it not for the Dixie Gas explosion, Mr. Roach could have made $325,000 in 2006. He explained that, in 2005, the Roaches’ tax returns showed that they had a loss of $27,000 for the year, and that ‘[t]o go from losing $27,000 in ‘05 to making [$325,000] in ‘06, absolutely does not add up. [Mr. Roach has] never made that much money ever in his life in one year.’ Referring to Dr. Bates’ assertion that the Roaches had lost some $4 million in ‘economic potential,’ Mr. Vance characterized it as ‘a ludicrous claim.’ From reviewing all of the Roaches’ records, Mr. Vance concluded that the Roaches’ ‘economic loss is zero.’ “
At the conclusion of trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the Defendants. The Appellate Court stated: “From our careful review of all of the evidence submitted at trial, we find ample evidence to support the jury’s verdict of zero damages.”