U.S. v. Garber, No. 78-5024

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore BROWN, Chief Judge, and COLEMAN, GOLDBERG, AINSWORTH, GODBOLD, CHARLES CLARK, RONEY, GEE, TJOFLAT, HILL, FAY, RUBIN, VANCE and KRAVITCH; CHARLES CLARK; JAMES C. HILL; AINSWORTH, Circuit Judge, with whom GODBOLD, TJOFLAT and ALVIN B. RUBIN; TJO
Citation607 F.2d 92
Parties79-2 USTC P 9709 UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Dorothy R. GARBER, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date19 November 1979
Docket NumberNo. 78-5024

Page 92

607 F.2d 92
79-2 USTC P 9709
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Dorothy R. GARBER, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 78-5024.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Nov. 19, 1979.

Page 93

Samuel S. Forman, Hollywood, Fla., Lawrence R. Metsch, Stanley A. Beiley, Miami, Fla. (co-counsel), for defendant-appellant.

Marsha L. Lyons, Asst. U. S. Atty., Miami, Fla., Charles E. Brookhart, Daniel F. Ross, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Tax Div., Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before BROWN, Chief Judge, and COLEMAN, GOLDBERG, AINSWORTH, GODBOLD, CHARLES CLARK, RONEY, GEE, TJOFLAT, HILL, FAY, RUBIN, VANCE and KRAVITCH, Circuit Judges. *

CHARLES CLARK, Circuit Judge:

Dorothy Clark Garber was indicted for willfully and knowingly attempting to evade a portion of her income tax liability for the years 1970, 1971, and 1972 by filing a false and fraudulent income tax return on behalf of herself and her husband. A jury found her innocent of the charges for 1970 and 1971 but convicted her under 26 U.S.C.A. § 7201 for knowingly misstating her income on her 1972 tax return. She was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment all but 60 days of which was suspended placed on probation for 21 months, and fined $5,000 exclusive of any civil tax liability. The taxability of the money received by Garber presents a unique legal question. Because of trial errors which deprived defendant of her defense on the element of willfulness, we reverse the conviction.

Some time in the late 1960's after the birth of her third child, Dorothy Garber was told that her blood contained a rare antibody useful in the production of blood group typing serum. Dade Reagents, Inc. (Dade Reagents), a manufacturer of diagnostic reagents used in clinical laboratories and blood banks, had made the discovery and in 1967 induced her to enter into a contract for the sale of her blood plasma. By a technique called plasmapheresis, a pint of whole blood was extracted from her arm, plasma was centrifugally separated, and the red cells were returned to her body. The process was then repeated. The two bleeds

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produced one pint of plasma from two pints of blood, and took a total of from one and a half to two and a half hours.

Plasmapheresis is often preceded by a stimulation of the donor whereby the titre or concentration of the desired antibody in the blood is artifically increased by an injection of an incompatible blood type. Both stimulation and plasmapheresis are accompanied by pain and discomfort and carry the risks of hepatitis and blood clotting.

In exchange for Garber's blood plasma, Dade Reagents agreed to pay her for each bleed on a sliding scale dependent on the titre or strength of the plasma obtained. Dade Reagents then marketed the substance for the production of blood group typing serum.

Because Garber's blood is so rare she is one of only two or three known persons in the world with this antibody she was approached by other laboratories which lured her away from Dade Reagents by offering an increasingly attractive price for her plasma. By 1970, 1971, and 1972, the three years covered in the indictment, she was receiving substantial sums of money in exchange for her plasma. 1 For two of those years she was selling her blood under separate contract to Associated Biologicals, Inc. (Associated) and to Biomedical Industries, Inc. (Biomedical), in both cases receiving in exchange a sum of money dependent on the strength of the antibody in each unit sold. In addition, Biomedical offered a weekly salary of $200, provided a leased automobile, and in 1972 added a $25,000 bonus. In that last year Garber sold her plasma to Biomedical exclusively, producing the coveted body fluid as often as six times a month.

For all three years involved, Biomedical had treated the regular $200 weekly payments as a salary subject to withholding taxes and provided Garber with a yearly W-2 form noting the taxes withheld. Every year, Garber attached those W-2 forms to her income tax return (which was filed jointly with her husband whom she has since divorced), declared the $200 per week as income, and paid the taxes due. All other payments, both from Biomedical and from Associated, had been paid directly to defendant by check. No income taxes were withheld by the companies; she received no W-2 forms, and paid no taxes on the money received. Biomedical did, however, file a Form 1099 Information Return with the IRS which showed a portion of Garber's donor fees not subject to withholding. Garber was provided a copy of each 1099, which plainly states that it is for information only and is not to be attached to the income tax return. She had never before received Information Returns, and, while she was receiving checks from both Biomedical and Associated, only Biomedical provided this information.

In this prosecution for the felony of willful evasion of income taxes the government had the burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. 121, 75 S.Ct. 127, 99 L.Ed. 150 (1954); United States v. England, 347 F.2d 425 (7th Cir. 1965). This required proof of a tax deficiency, an affirmative act constituting evasion or attempted evasion of the tax due, and willfulness. Sansone v. United States, 380 U.S. 343, 85 S.Ct. 1004, 13 L.Ed.2d 882 (1965); United States v. Callahan, 588 F.2d 1078 (5th Cir. 1979); United States v. Buckley, 586 F.2d 498 (5th Cir. 1978). The element we find lacking here was willfulness.

At trial, outside the presence of the jury, the government proffered the testimony of Jacquin Bierman, a professor of law and practicing attorney in the City of New York, who stated his opinion that Garber had made available her bodily functions or products for a consideration which constituted taxable gross income. His conclusion was based on section 61(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) which defines gross income as

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all income from whatever source derived, including (but not limited to) the following items:

(1) Compensation for services, including fees, commissions, and similar items;

(3) Gains derived from dealings in property;

26 U.S.C.A. § 61(a). While admitting that this case is the first of its kind, Bierman opined that if the exchanges were considered the sale of a product, there would be no tax basis or original cost for the product sold, and the entire sales price would constitute gain subject to tax under section 61(a) (3). Alternatively, he considered categorizing the transactions as the rendition of a service, in which case he was of the opinion that the entire sales price similarly would be fully taxable under section 61(a)(1).

The defense proffered to the court the testimony of Daniel Nall, a Certified Public Accountant and former revenue agent, who concluded that the money received by Garber was not within the legal definition of income in section 61(a) and that she had therefore participated in tax-free exchanges. He patterned his reasoning on early case law resting on Doyle v. Mitchell Brothers, 247 U.S. 179, 38 S.Ct. 467, 62 L.Ed. 1054 (1918), which held that funds obtained by the conversion of capital assets and which represented only the actual value of such assets was not taxable income. According to Nall, the Attorney General in a 1918 opinion considered the human body a kind of capital asset. Following the reasoning in Doyle, the opinion held that the proceeds of an accident insurance policy were not subject to tax because the proceeds of the insurance policy represented a conversion of the capital loss which the injured taxpayer had suffered. Nall mentioned similar opinions finding settlements received for personal injury not taxable income. Eventually the Code was amended to include a specific provision covering the tax consequences of compensation for injuries or sickness. 2 Nevertheless, Nall explained, the theory has reappeared in situations involving the exchange of something so personal that its value is not susceptible to measurement. In these transactions such as property settlements in divorce actions or damage awards for alienation of affection or for defamation of character the value received is deemed equal to the value given, resulting in no taxable gain. Nall compared blood plasma, a part of the body which no one can value, and concluded that it too must be worth its market value. He therefore reasoned that its exchange produces no gain.

The district court heard the testimony of these two experts but refused to admit either opinion in the evidence which went to the jury because it considered the question of taxability to be one of law for the court and not the jury to decide. However, the court did permit the government to introduce testimony by an Internal Revenue Service agent who qualified as an expert in the field of accounting and taxation. This agent offered his opinion that additional taxable income was due but not reported in the years in question. His testimony was received over defense objection that it was based on his conclusion that the compensation received was income and taxable. During cross examination, the witness conceded that the taxability of money received

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for giving up a part of one's body is a unique and undecided question in tax law. He also agreed that money received as a return on a capital product is not subject to tax. Yet, he based his calculations on his opinion that the blood plasma donations here were taxable personal services. His view was, in turn, based solely on a Revenue Ruling which declared donations of whole blood to be a service for purposes of determining the deductibility of a charitable contribution. The court sustained objections to the relevancy of further inquiry regarding the nature or value of blood plasma.

The defense argued to the court that the expert testimony of Daniel Nall should be...

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72 practice notes
  • Johnson v. Sawyer, No. 91-2763
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 14, 1993
    ...with the conviction itself as Daniels, to say nothing of the wording of the information, makes plain. See also United States v. Garber, 607 F.2d 92, 97-98 (5th Cir.1979) ("a negligent, careless, or unintentional understatement of income" does not violate section 7201; rather, "[t]he Governm......
  • People v. Smith
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 17, 1984
    ...evasion. Defendant here also relies on United States v. Critzer (4th Cir.1974) 498 F.2d 1160, and United States v. Garber (5th Cir.1979) 607 F.2d 92. Critzer states (at p. "As a matter of law, defendant cannot be guilty of willfully evading and defeating income taxes on income, the taxabili......
  • Johnson v. Sawyer, No. 91-2763
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • December 29, 1992
    ...(5th Cir.1980), and that "a negligent, careless, or unintentional understatement of income" is not "sufficient." United States v. Garber, 607 F.2d 92, 97-98 (5th Cir.1979). "The government must demonstrate that the defendant willfully concealed and omitted from her return income which she k......
  • U.S. v. Scott, No. 80-2114
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • January 18, 1982
    ...of a known legal duty, e. g., United States v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10, 12, 97 S.Ct. 22, 23, 50 L.Ed.2d 12 (1976); United States v. Garber, 607 F.2d 92, 99-100 (5th Cir. 1979), his failure to report this "attributed income" is just as much a violation of Sec. 7206(1) as is failure to report s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
72 cases
  • Johnson v. Sawyer, No. 91-2763
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 14, 1993
    ...with the conviction itself as Daniels, to say nothing of the wording of the information, makes plain. See also United States v. Garber, 607 F.2d 92, 97-98 (5th Cir.1979) ("a negligent, careless, or unintentional understatement of income" does not violate section 7201; rather, "[t]he Governm......
  • People v. Smith
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 17, 1984
    ...evasion. Defendant here also relies on United States v. Critzer (4th Cir.1974) 498 F.2d 1160, and United States v. Garber (5th Cir.1979) 607 F.2d 92. Critzer states (at p. "As a matter of law, defendant cannot be guilty of willfully evading and defeating income taxes on income, the taxabili......
  • Johnson v. Sawyer, No. 91-2763
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • December 29, 1992
    ...(5th Cir.1980), and that "a negligent, careless, or unintentional understatement of income" is not "sufficient." United States v. Garber, 607 F.2d 92, 97-98 (5th Cir.1979). "The government must demonstrate that the defendant willfully concealed and omitted from her return income which she k......
  • U.S. v. Scott, No. 80-2114
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • January 18, 1982
    ...of a known legal duty, e. g., United States v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10, 12, 97 S.Ct. 22, 23, 50 L.Ed.2d 12 (1976); United States v. Garber, 607 F.2d 92, 99-100 (5th Cir. 1979), his failure to report this "attributed income" is just as much a violation of Sec. 7206(1) as is failure to report s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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