BVR is very sad to note that the eminent David Laro, a senior judge of the United States Tax Court, passed away on September 21. Valuators in particular looked up to Judge Laro for his unique understanding of the field of valuation and the role it plays in many tax cases. Judge Laro was the author of the groundbreaking Mandelbaum decision, in which he developed a list of factors valuators could use to perform a defensible DLOM analysis. In doing so, he gave valuators important guidance on how to prevail in court.
Judge Laro’s gift for communicating what Tax Court judges are looking for in expert testimony and his warm personality made him one of the most sought-after speakers at appraisal conferences. “I had the privilege to get to know David fairly well from the times he volunteered to be a judge for our AICPA Expert Witness Workshop, as well as on a few other encounters,” says Ron Seigneur (Seigneur Gustafson LLP). “His passion for business appraisal in the context of tax matters was always evident in his published opinions.”
Judge Laro also was a proponent of an expert testimony technique called “hot tubbing,” which has become an important alternative fact-finding approach. Recognizing the limitations of the adversarial system, with its “battle of the experts” approach, Judge Laro favored a collegial discussion in which experts would sit around the table with the judge present and work out their honest disagreements. Ever concerned over achieving a just outcome and preserving the integrity of the judicial process, Judge Laro believed hot tubbing was the way forward. His vision and his presence on the court will be missed.