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Value Expert

September 01, 2019 - 8 minute read

Magnum enjoys surf breaks and mission trips with his family.

Russell Mangum was heading into a career in police work, but instead found his stride as an economist giving expert testimony in high-profile cases of intellectual property infringement and anti-trust litigation. His clients and cases have included companies as diverse as Microsoft, Monster Energy, Chipotle and Chicken of the Sea. 

“I very much like that I get to look into so many markets, products and issues,” Mangum says. “Every six months I’m doing something completely different than before.” 

But early in his career, he thought he would be dealing with perps of a different kind. As an undergraduate he took a part-time job as a police cadet at the Newport Beach police department. 

“I liked the exposure to civic life, and over time I gained this desire to be a policeman,” he says. 

Mangum eventually became a policeman, for Huntington Beach. That career lasted only eight months because once on the streets, Mangum realized “I was miserable in that setting. The toughness you had to have toward the public — I was unprepared for how you had to treat people when they might be trying to hurt you or your partner. It didn’t click with me and I thought, ‘I don’t want to continue this way.’ My interest in police work was much too academic. I liked the law and justice aspect.” 

He left the profession, finished his economics degree and received a full-ride teaching assistantship to USC, earning his MA and PhD in economics there. His first job took him to Washington, D.C., to work as an economist for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is a law enforcement branch looking into competition issues like mergers and monopolies. As Mangum watched some colleagues leave the FTC for private firms, he realized he would rather work with clients than continue a career path within the government. 

He and wife Tami moved back to California and worked for a series of companies including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Analysis Group and Nathan Associates for whom Mangum opened an office in Irvine. He is now a senior vice president there, conducting economic research and analysis, and providing expert testimony. Mangum studies competition and market value to help courts and companies protect competition and intellectual property, and quantify damages related to restraints on competition and when intellectual property is infringed. 

Russ is always maintaining composure...When you see him balancing work with family and activities, it’s encouraging.

A partial list of industries for which Mangum has performed damages analyses reads like a cross-section of the global economy. They include cases involving:

  • automated stapling machines used in bed manufacturing
  • high-rise elevator hardware and control systems
  • business software
  • padded athletic shirts, pants, shoes and headwear
  • handheld device navigation applications
  • semiconductors
  • spinal fusion implants
  • breast biopsy devices
  • additive-infused candy
  • a new variety of late ripening white grapes
  • personal watercraft devices
  • online dining reservation and payment services
  • Internet search engine terms related to sales of food
  • motion picture trademarks used on clothing furniture, both mechanized and non-mechanized
  • portable combustion engines
  • infant care products
  • postal measuring products
  • scented candles
  • children’s toys design plans for a theme amusement park. 

On the competition side, Mangum also analyzes the magnitude of competition in markets, market power, and the likelihood of monopolization from certain events, and has given expert analysis for the competitive effects of proposed mergers and alleged collusion in industries including supermarkets, auto parts, cable systems and computer game software. 

A recent high-profile case involved alleged price-fixing by the top three sellers of packaged tuna. In the process of evaluating the proposed merger of Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee Foods, the federal government found documents giving evidence of collusion to fix prices. All three of the big tuna packagers, including StarKist, admitted guilt. StarKist was fined $100 million, and Bumble Bee $25 million. As the whistleblower, Chicken of the Sea did not receive a fine. 

Mangum is acting as an expert economist for tuna purchasers in a civil suit related to the government’s investigation. In the civil suit it is alleged that the companies got together and said, “‘let’s cooperate on when we’re going to raise prices and how much, and agree to not give so many discounts,’” Mangum says. “This kind of thing happens more than you think, but it’s not easy to find, and you rarely find it by doing analysis.” 

Russell Magnum walking on the beach

Mangum was hired to help determine whether the alleged conspiracy had had any economic effect. He built a statistical model to evaluate if prices were made higher and if the conspiracy likely worked to limit competition. 

“A common way conspiracies are discovered is when someone gets nervous because they’re involved in it,” Mangum says. “If you get caught, price fixing is one of the few types of business disputes where you can go to jail. There is a federal policy that if you’re the first to come forward, you won’t go to jail. That’s especially attractive if you’re a second-level manager wondering if someone else might tell.” 

Mangum turns his extensive analysis of evidence into reports and opinions, and is then deposed in an on–camera, under-oath formal legal setting. Despite extensive analysis and research, cases usually settle out of court.

Mangum is active in areas other than competition. For example, he testified on behalf of Chipotle Mexican Grill related to charges of false statements about food product ingredients, and for Monster Energy Company and Disney Resorts, separately, in trademark and copyright infringement cases. 

“In my analysis I get access to top-level company individuals — CEOs, executive vice presidents — people who rarely deal with the public,” he says. “It’s a pleasure to be around them and hear the way they evaluate their business. Economics can be so conceptual and theoretical that it’s refreshing to talk to someone who is the ultimate pragmatist. Success for them isn’t measured by published articles. It’s measured by the customer who bought what they are selling.” 

Mangum enjoys the team-oriented approach at Nathan Associates. 

“I get to work with smart people who are trained in economics and are very good at what they do,” Mangum says. “That’s the great thing about it, the cooperative team environment.” 

Eric Matolo is a vice president at Nathan Associate and has been a colleague of Mangum’s and part of his support staff for more than twelve years. 

“Russ is a great person to learn from,” says Matolo. “He creates a very collaborative environment and encourages meaningful contributions from anyone, regardless of your title or position. You don’t feel boxed in with Russ. If you have ideas and ways to contribute, it’s very much encouraged and you feel comfortable doing so. It has been a great place to learn and grow for me and for others.”

Given the nature and hours of their work, stress can come easily, but “Russ has done a good job of minimizing the intensity of the work environment,” says Matolo. “The work is going to be what it is, but as the leader and founder of this office, Russ is always maintaining composure. That spreads to the support staff and the rest of the office. It helps with the balance. When you see him balancing work with family and activities, it’s encouraging.” 

Early in his career, while serving at the FTC, Mangum taught as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s D.C. campus and discovered a love for teaching. But when he connected with Concordia in 2013 through professor Stephen Christensen, who met Mangum’s dad at a Bible study, he was not looking for a full-time teaching post. 

“Concordia had added an economics degree and didn’t have a PhD economist on staff,” he says. “I wasn’t looking to teach full-time at that point, but it fit well.” 

Today, Mangum teaches a full load of courses as an associate professor at Concordia University Irvine's School of Business and Economics. 

“The addition of Dr. Mangum and his expertise and experience to our economics faculty has been a great addition to our growing economics programs,” says colleague Dean George W. Wright in the School of Business and Economics. 

Mangum brings stories of cases he is working on into the classroom, and invites students to trials where he is giving expert testimony exposing students to the many different vocational opportunities for economics majors and business majors with the just-introduced business economics emphasis. 

“I enjoy the process of helping someone understand,” Mangum says. “I love the critical thinking approach of economics, and learning there are systems behind it. I love teaching the students and seeing the light bulbs come on.” 

The smaller campus environment, relative to USC where he taught as an adjunct instructor, gives him the chance to develop relationships with students. 

“At USC, I had a 300-student class and rarely saw a student more than once in their college career,” he says. 

Mangum himself is again a student as well, having enrolled in an apologetics master’s degree at a Christian university, on top of everything else he’s doing. 

I very much like that I get to look into so many markets, products and issues. Every six months I’m doing something completely different than before.

“Somewhere between economics, critical thinking and my faith, I have this drive that much more can be done in churches with critical thinking and apologetics,” he says. “I want to become more knowledgeable and maybe more involved in adult education at my church.” 

Being a student again is refining the way he teaches his own online class for Concordia University Irvine. 

“I’m seeing different ways to do discussion boards and things,” he says. “It’s been a surprise benefit for me.” 

Russ is preparing to run his ninth marathon this fall, and in the last year embraced surfing. 

“I was taking my daughter to a surf event with some church interns and it clicked with me,” he says. “I like the outdoors and getting into that environment.” 

Mangum and Tami, his high school sweetheart and wife of 32 years, travel often with their three daughters, who all attend or have graduated from Crean Lutheran High School. As a family they have been on missions trips to places like Ukraine, India, Nepal, Tanzania, the Philippines and Mexico. For the past three summers they have taught English at a Christian camp in Ukraine. 

“We just love getting out of our culture, to see the way that people live that’s not the American way,” Russ says. “You realize that Jesus Christ is absolutely the same. The differences are just human and cultural. That’s such a comforting fact.” 

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