Statistics and Sampling

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Supreme Court To Address Use of Statistics For Class Action Certification

June 2015 The April 2013 Supreme Court decision in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, No. 11-864, was a profound change benefitting companies facing class action lawsuits.  The Court held that a plaintiff seeking certification must establish through “evidentiary proof” that damages can be measured on a class-wide basis.  Individual damage issues can defeat class certification where [...]

GAO Reports Worsening Improper Payments

March 2015 The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) recently published a summary of the testimony of US Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro regarding government efficiency and effectiveness.  The GAO reports annually to Congress on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives (both within departments and government-wide) that are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative.  It also identifies opportunities for [...]

Addressing The Seventh Circuit’s Concerns Regarding Consumer Surveys In Litigation

January 2014 In the course of affirming the district court’s decision in Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., 2013 WL 6017396, Judge Posner went a step further.  While upholding the injunction, he ended his assessment with some comments “for future reference” when it comes to consumer surveys offered to demonstrate [...]

The Popularity Spike Of Nobel Prize Winners In The “Dismal Science”

October 2013 The announcement of the Nobel Prize winners every October means that at least once a year a handful of economists become relatively popular, at least momentarily. Like many public announcements, the lasting impact of this announcement can be measured using the principles of an event study.  In this case, one measure of this [...]

Baby Names As A Marketplace: What Are Americans “Buying”?

August 2013 For economists and data analysts, many interesting pop culture newsbytes spawn a desire to understand the greater forces at work.  Powerful analytical tools we often use for complex questions of market share fragmentation, competitive landscape analysis, event studies and pricing models can also help us frame everyday questions of cultural norms. The press [...]

Can Time Series Decomposition Allow Us To Settle The Score On Which Sport Is Best?

April 2013 Every fan loves his sport.  There is much debate over which sports are growing in popularity and which are on the decline.  Although popularity does not necessarily indicate superiority, it does tell us something about public opinion on the topic.  One way to approximate each sport’s relative popularity is to look at web [...]

Seventh Circuit Bars Class Certification Because Of Damages

March 2013 The Seventh Circuit decided Espenscheid vs. DirectSat, Inc., (No. 12-1943, February 4, 2013), upholding the district court’s decision to not certify a class of employees containing wage and hour law violations. The ruling is notable as class certification was denied because the class members had different amounts of claimed work that had not [...]

Why Chocolate Doesn’t Create More Nobel Laureates For Your Country

March 2013 The article, “Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates” recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), demonstrates that even published research may contain errors.  The author, Franz H. Messerli, examines the correlation between countries’ chocolate consumption per capita and Nobel laureates per 10 million people. The linear relationship is strong, [...]

Beware Of Poll Results

June 2011 Based on results of its May 2011 survey, the Associated Press (AP) reported that President Obama hit his highest approval rating in two years, with his approval shooting past 50 percent based on the economy: “President Barack Obama's approval rating has hit its highest point in two years — 60 percent — and [...]

Chi-Square Statistical Test Evaluates Independence

June 2013 Statisticians describe independence as whether the occurrence of one event or characteristic makes it neither more nor less probable that other event(s) or characteristic(s) occur(s). The chi-square test described below is one of the most widely used tests for evaluating independence of variables, particularly when the number of observations and/or variables becomes larger. [...]

First Law Signed By Obama Will Increase Employment Discrimination Litigation

February 2009 The first piece of legislation signed by President Obama is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (“FPA”). This anti-discrimination law overturns a Supreme Court ruling that established a short statute of limitations. Under the new law, employment discrimination claims are certain to increase. The Act takes effect as if enacted on [...]

Using Statistics To Establish (Or Disprove) Relationships

February 2011 Statisticians describe independence as whether the occurrence of one event or characteristic makes it neither more nor less probable that other event(s) or characteristic(s) occur(s). The chi-square and Fisher exact tests described below are the most widely used tests for evaluating independence of variables. The classic tool for teaching probability involves placing different [...]

RIF Statistical Audits Reduce Discrimination Risks

March 2009 Unfortunately, current difficult economic times are forcing many employers to lay off employees. Employers considering a reduction in force (RIF) can reduce risk of discrimination allegations through relatively inexpensive pre-RIF statistical testing. When compared to the cost of litigation, testing before final conclusions are reached is an inexpensive check on the proposed actions. [...]

Federal Health Care Fraud Enforcement Efforts Recover Record Amounts

February 2011 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its required annual Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program report. The report showed that the government’s health care fraud prevention and enforcement efforts recovered more than $4 billion in taxpayer dollars in fiscal year 2010. This is the highest annual amount ever recovered. [...]

Calculating Sample Size

Sampling is an accepted way of making estimates at a much lower cost and when done properly, statistics can provide useful information regarding the likelihood that information obtained from the sample is representative of the entire population from which the sample was taken. This article provides a primer of information that the person considering a [...]

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