James McMillan (plaintiff), a black man, was seriously injured during the crash of a ferryboat negligently operated by the City of New York (City) (defendant). McMillan became a quadriplegic as a result of the crash and sued the City for negligence, claiming damages resulting from pain, suffering, and medical costs. A critical element in the calculation of damages was McMillan’s life expectancy. At a trial before the court and an advisory judge, the City introduced race-based statistical evidence showing that an African-American plaintiff with a spinal-cord injury would live a shorter life than a person of another race with a similar injury. The issue was whether a court could rely on race as a factor in the calculation of damages in a negligence case.