Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Fred Dunbar, an oft-cited specialist on damages in securities lawsuits who helped lead NERA Economic Consulting for 30 years before joining the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2009, has died. He was 67.
He died Feb. 1 after battling brain cancer, according to Benjamin Seggerson, a spokesman for NERA, a New York-based unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos.
Dunbar founded NERA’s practices in securities and mass torts and often testified on behalf of manufacturers targeted by class-action lawsuits, including ones concerning asbestos and tobacco.
As an expert witness in the 2004 challenge by Walt Disney Co. shareholders to the $140 million severance payment to former company president Michael Ovitz, Dunbar supported the defense of current and former Disney directors. He said Ovitz’s contract was “reasonable” based on the 4.4 percent rise in Disney shares on Aug. 14, 1995, the day his hiring was announced. The judge in the case, William B. Chandler III of Delaware Chancery Court, ruled in favor of the company.
Dunbar used mathematical and statistical analysis, known as econometrics, to challenge plaintiff claims of damages. He told the Daily Deal in 2003 that plaintiffs “often assume certain facts are correct, whereas we scrutinize and refute those facts.”
Dunbar joined the SEC in September 2009 as an economic fellow within the Division of Risk, Strategy and Financial Innovation.
“We at NERA deeply miss Fred -- his sharp intellect, his keen sense of humor, his deep humanity, and the way his soft-spoken nature somehow made his words and insights even more profound,” the firm said in a statement.
Frederick Charles Dunbar was born on May 1, 1944, in Seattle and raised in Oregon, according to Seggerson. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and a Ph.D. in economics from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
He joined NERA in 1979, focusing on environmental economics, deregulation and financial risk management for utilities. He founded the firm’s securities practice in the late 1980s.
He was an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law and Columbia University Law School, both in New York, and co-wrote “Estimating Future Claims: Case Studies from Mass Torts and Product Liability.”
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