By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
Ask Reasonable Jurors for Reasonable Damages
Video Transcribed: Imagine a world where the injury defendant bar and injury defense lawyers and firms had to advertise publicly on television or on the radio to get insurance companies as clients. Imagine what they’d say in public about what they are going to do for the insurance companies to make sure that they don’t have to pay out any more than they absolutely have to. We understand the adversarial process involved.
Those would be some pretty ugly commercials to advertise that we are the best law firm to really beat up on plaintiffs and their lawyers and law firms to beat up on the process, to criticize our judicial system, to criticize our civil justice system. We’ll do whatever it takes to save you money as an insurance company, all the while, doing a great job of arguably pretending to represent the defendant, all along, knowing that our paycheck comes not from justice, but it comes from the insurance company.
And I say that because we live in a world where that paradigm exists for the plaintiff’s bar, for those who represent injured people. When you get a jury panel, they’re all going to have heard these obnoxious attorney commercials. And I say obnoxious, there are some good ones. I have some friends that advertise and they do it in a very classy way.
It’s like, if you want real justice, if you want full justice, if you want somebody that’s experienced then hire our firm. He has little catchy phrases that induce people that may not be thinking about a lawsuit to get up off their couch or out of their recliner and put their TV remote down and go call a law firm. Those make us look bad and for whatever reason, and we know the reason, we are on the bottom three rungs of the ladder of public trust with politicians and used car salesman.
That’s the real world that we live in and we have to address those head on when we talk to jurors. I’m not going to discuss all of those, but one of the things I want to talk to was the hostile juror. And I say hostile juror, I mean a juror that just thinks that because you’re the only one asking for money, you must be greedy. And I’ll tell you just think about the last time you were in a courtroom as a plaintiff’s lawyer, look around the room in your mind, just look at the judge and the jurors. And you look at the other parties and witnesses.
You look at anybody that’s in the crowd, anybody sitting out in the hallway. Who’s the only person in that room asking for money? And that’s that’s you. And so you need to address to the jury that concern about this popular culture idea we have, of what plaintiff lawyers are about and that somehow asking for money for stuff that money doesn’t necessarily fix is somehow greedy.
And what I will tell the jurors in a case, I did it as a lawyer. I did it as a judge, is I would tell them that this is a civil justice system. This is a civil court, a civil court of law. And I would ask the jurors about the idea of the old West, the shootout at the OK Corral. Does anybody think that that’s okay today? And nobody thinks that that’s okay, but I want to make sure that I have a jury panel that’s going to hear the case. And they’re only going to hold the defendant responsible, monetarily as a judge, if the plaintiff can prove their case.
But if the plaintiff proves their case, the only thing they can do is this thing that we do. And that’s to award money damages, and it goes against the grain of some of our basic beliefs, paying money for stuff that money doesn’t fix. But the alternative is the Old West and vigilantism and gunslinger justice. And that’s not acceptable either.
And the way we legitimize the process and the way that we legitimize civil courts, is by having this mechanism whereby that a plaintiff who’s been injured, who’s been wronged, who has suffered in any of a number of ways, or maybe many of a number of ways that that plaintiff suffered, that injured person has suffered that they have a mechanism by which they can come to court and have their case heard.
But the system only works if jurors award damages that are just an appropriate for each case. And then if they don’t do that, and they’re not willing to do that, then there’s no legitimacy in the civil court process. I hope this has been helpful. I will talk to you some more in some other videos about the different kinds of jurors that maybe are not quite so receptive to this system, to this process.
But I thank you for being here. I look forward to talking to you some more. Thank you.