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2:12-cv-10038 #96

2:12-cv-10038 #96

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Published by Equality Case Files
Doc 96 - Plaintiffs' Reply in support of excluding testimony of Joseph Price
Doc 96 - Plaintiffs' Reply in support of excluding testimony of Joseph Price

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Published by: Equality Case Files on Mar 16, 2014
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03/16/2014

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION
THERESA BASSETT and CAROL KENNEDY, PETER WAYS and JOE BREAKEY, JOLINDA JACH and BARBARA RAMBER, DOAK BLOSS and GERARDO ASCHERI, DENISE MILLER, and MICHELLE JOHNSON, Case No. 2:12-cv-10038-DML-MJH Plaintiffs, Hon. David M. Lawson Mag. Michael J. Hluchaniuk vs. RICHARD SNYDER, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of Michigan, Defendant.  ______________________________/
REPLY BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO EXCLUDE TESTIMONY OF JOSEPH PRICE
 
2:12-cv-10038-DML-MJH Doc # 96 Filed 03/10/14 Pg 1 of 9 Pg ID 4621
 
 
1
INTRODUCTION
Defendant’s expert, Joseph Price, is an “empirical economist” whose core opinion in this case is that the Public Act 297 of 2011, the Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act (the “Act”) is economically rational  because it incentivizes couples to marry and not cohabit, and that marriage generates greater economic benefits for the state than cohabiting. (
See
Ex. A, Price Rpt. ¶ 9, 42; Price Dep. Tr. at 139:7-12, 134:16-135:1;
 see also id.
 at 137:15-138:2.) That opinion demands a variety of empirical comparisons between cohabitation and marriage. (Price Dep. Tr. at 134:16-135:1.) Yet Dr. Price has no empirical basis to opine that marriage generates better outcomes than cohabitation on any of the metrics he discusses—income (
id.
 at 248:23-249:7; 249:15-19; 231:2-15), health (
id.
at 160:24-161:4), or criminality (
id.
at 124:18-22). Dr. Price also admits that he has no empirical basis to say that marginal marriages— marriages that might occur because of state incentives like the Act—exhibit the  positive outcomes he attributes to marriages generally. (
 Id.
 at 203:7-11, 203:12-16, 205:19-23.) In other words, Dr. Price’s opinion, that the Act is rational as a means to capture the supposed economic benefits of marriage over cohabitation, lacks any empirical support and is based on his
ipse dixit 
 rather than the “rigorous empirical
2:12-cv-10038-DML-MJH Doc # 96 Filed 03/10/14 Pg 2 of 9 Pg ID 4622
 
 
2 methods” he purports to apply outside of litigation. (Ex. A at ¶ 4.) Plaintiffs therefore moved to exclude his testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 702.
ARGUMENT I.
 
Dr. Price’s analysis of a “broad[] spectrum of relationships” is irrelevant to the facts of this case, which require a specific finding that it was rational for Michigan to take benefits from cohabiting couples.
Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs’ motion rests on “a fatal assumption that ‘the relevant comparison for purposes of evaluating the economic impact of the Act . . . is marriage versus cohabitation.’” (Def.’s Resp. (Dkt. No. 91) at 6 (quoting Dkt. No. 86 at 3).) The assumption is supposedly “fatal,” because Dr. Price’s testimony is “much broader” and compares marriage to “non-married  persons, including both single and cohabitation.” (
 Id.
at 6
.
) But it was Dr. Price who testified that at the heart of his opinion is a comparison of marriage to cohabitation: Q: At heart, what you’re opining on in your report is the economic impact of the State passing this law, the Benefit Restriction law, which makes unequal the economic incentive to marry versus cohabit, right? A: That’s right. . . . . Q: Because what you’re saying in your report is that by denying cohabiting couples these health benefits you are disincentivizing  people to cohabit versus marriage? A: Yes.
2:12-cv-10038-DML-MJH Doc # 96 Filed 03/10/14 Pg 3 of 9 Pg ID 4623

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