Plaintiffs claim JDS executives sold massive amounts of stock in August 2000 because they knew customer demand would soon tank, and that the company’s stock price would follow. So Duke finance professor James Vanderweide (seen here looking particularly jovial) testified at length for the telecom company about how its market grew throughout the year 2000. A significant downturn wasn’t apparent to the marketplace until the middle of 2001, Vanderweide said.
On cross examination, Labaton Sucharow’s Mark Arisohn quickly demonstrated his mission: portray Vanderweide as nothing more than a hired corporate lackey.
The expert’s fee? $475 an hour. Total amount billed to JDS for this case so far? $175,000 (not including recent court appearances). Hired by numerous gas, electric and telecom companies in the past? Yes.
Yet in parrying some of Arisohn’s inquiries, Vanderweide showed why he makes so much money as a corporate expert.
The professor got very cagey when Arisohn tried to make him admit that he only testifies for utilities when they want higher rates.
“It is the case they are seeking rate increases, but it is not the case that my testimony is based on their desire for increased rates,” he said, adding that the utilities only hire him to provide an “independent opinion” on the market.
Arisohn asked if he submits his opinion to utility lawyers to be edited before it is sent to a utility commission.
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘edited,’” Vanderweide replied. The professor said he does send it to the lawyers, but they only check for misspellings.
“So the attorneys are checking your report for typos?” Arisohn asked, deadpan.
The professor evaded, but said the corporate lawyers don’t have any control over his opinions.
— Dan Levine