There’s a story of a young Hollywood writer bragging to a veteran movie producer on the quality of his script, extolling that “it’s not only a great comedy, but it also has a message.” To which the producer replies: “Just write me the comedy. Messages are for Western Union.”
Unlike Hollywood, sending a message remains a core part of trial strategies, empowering the jury to send that message, particularly in personal injury and liability cases. In recent years, I have seen that juries are more inclined to award eye-catching awards. Responsible businesses and insurers are taking note.
Tipping the Caps
Based on several court decisions during the past nine months, we may be closer to restoring a missing element of common sense to our judicial system and protecting the rights of victims of corporate greed, recklessness and other bad acts.
As stated in the opinion, “a collapsing brick wall can inflict bodily injuries on one person that result in death and bodily injuries on another person that do not result in death, and … the resulting pain and suffering in each case can be substantially the same.”
A Bale of Hay, a Block of Cheese, and the Truth
It was a pleasure to be interviewed recently by a reporter from The New York Times, to discuss both the tactics used by Johnson & Johnson to deny the presence of asbestos in talc, and the techniques and evidence I used in a trial last year. The diverse and thoughtful jury in that case, faced with documentation long hidden from public and regulatory view, found that J&J has known for decades that its talcum powder products are frequently contaminated with asbestos. As a result, they awarded compensatory and punitive damages of almost $4.7 billion on behalf of 22 victims of asbestos-linked ovarian cancer.
Both Sides Now: Representing Plaintiffs and Defendants
It’s not surprising that firms are discovering a growing number of client conflicts when approaching new litigation assignments. As mergers of large firms have occurred, those that have followed traditional, rigid business models that only allow for corporate defense work have been stymied by the conflicts that arise. Of course, many mega-firm attorneys possess a certain hubris that inhibits them from even considering representing a plaintiff.
There’s No Place Like Home Rule
As we’ve seen all too often, cities, counties and school districts across the nation that attempt to address the distinct concerns of their constituents are often thwarted by state legislatures. According to a report by the National League of Cities, those battles occur in four key policy areas of local governance: economic, social, health and safety.