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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

The Puzzle of the Jury Room

In the article “A New Day In Court” published in CFO Magazine, Steven L. Mintz writes:

Awards often seem mysterious to Chris Campos, whose Teaneck, New Jersey based CPA firm, Campos & Stratis, investigates product- liability claims on behalf of insurance companies. He finds even favorable outcomes puzzling, when emotions in the jury room overwhelm, or at least temper, the facts. “You’re almost shooting craps,” he says, noting one Indiana case in which Campos was acting on behalf of an insurer suing a manufacturer to recover damages. His client claimed $2.8 million in damages caused by the manufacturer. “Instead of $2.8 million, they came back with $2.1 million. No one could explain why.”

The article goes on to talk about a popular defense attorney opinion that personal injury attorneys tug at jury’s heartstrings by pushing punitive awards as a way to “send a message back to the company.”
I said:

“I think that a lot of times, company executives are not really thinking of what cases are about,” Marler says. Instead, the defense often gripes about attention-grabbing attorneys who yank jurors’ heartstrings on the thinnest of pretenses. “They’ve got to get past that,” Marler declares of the company executives and the attorneys on their side. “Jack in the Box poisoned and killed children; a child who survived is going to have long-term kidney problems,” he declares, urging that companies accept even the harshest reality if it’s the truth. So the right track for companies, Marler says, is to face up to legitimate claims, but stand firm beyond that.

“Fight bogus claims to the death; it doesn’t benefit any of us to roll over,” he argues. “But when you’re caught with your pants down, settle.”