Tag Archives: Trial Lawyer

Trial Lawyers As Storytellers, The Narratives Versus The Numbers

It is a truism among trial lawyers that compelling stories win cases.   Jim Perdue, a trial lawyer in Texas, wrote a trial advocacy book literally titled Winning with Stories: Using the Narrative to Persuade in Trials, Speeches & Lectures. I’ve written several times before about studying the methods of the great storytellers of our times and of classical times and how juries respond to the emotions conveyed by counsel.  The cynics might say we are doing nothing more than scheming to manipulate the emotions of jurors — like when a judge wrongly let defense lawyers drive an inadequate security / ... Continue Reading

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Another Twombly/Iqbal Victory for Plaintiffs: SCOTUS Denies Certiorari for Digital Music Price-Fixing Case

If you're a reader of this blog, you're undoubtedly familiar with Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, a pair of Supreme Court cases which altered the pleading standards applicable to civil cases filed in federal court. Defense lawyers have jumped all over those two opinions in an attempt to dismiss lawsuits — particularly complex commercial class actions, like antitrust cases — before any discovery can be taken. Every lawsuit, they claim, no matter how detailed and compelling, is "implausible" under Twombly and Iqbal. I taught CLEs to help other trial lawyers defeat those arguments. Back when the Iqbal ... Continue Reading

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Jury Awards Law Professors $5 Million Against West Publishing For Defamatory Pocket Part

[UPDATE: Law Librarian Blog and 3 Geeks and a Law Blog both have detailed coverage of the case and what it means for the publishing industry, and Jonathan Turley has background on the Campbell punitive damages case.] [UPDATE II: As The Legal Intelligencer  reported, and as I predicted below, Judge Fullam cut the punitive damages verdict, holding "the constitutional limit in this case should be set at $110,000 for each plaintiff. When combined with the compensatory damages, this would result in a recovery of $200,000 for each plaintiff." That's roughly a 1:1 ratio of compensatory:punitive damages, which is low under recent precedent, ... Continue Reading

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Why Philadelphia Is The Worst Judicial Hellhole In The United States

The American Tort Reform Association's Annual Report on "Judicial Hellholes" is out again. Whoops, I mixed up my link — that's a link to reasonable commentary by the Center for Justice & Democracy. The actual misleading, faux-scientific report is here. My take is similar to The Pop Tort's ode to the judicial hellholes list: Your courageous “Judicial Hellholes” report at long last draws attention to the many injustices corporations have to face day in and day out.  You have finally given a voice to the “mom and pop” tobacco companies, gasoline conglomerates, and insurance providers. Philadelphia apparently takes #1 on the ... Continue Reading

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Don’t Take Cases That Don’t Fit In Your Firm’s Portfolio

Ronald V. Miller, Jr. at Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog notes: The Insurance Journal reports a rise in legal malpractice claims. Incredibly, there has been no hand wringing about increased malpractice rates for lawyers or fears that lawyers will no longer be able to keep their practices open as their insurance rates rise. We have never had a legal malpractice claim yet our rates continue to increase. No one cries for us. A part of the rise in the number of legal malpractice claims is countersuits against lawyers who are suing their clients to pay their bill. But I think the ... Continue Reading

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Aristotle and Jay-Z Explain Legal Advocacy

The New Yorker recently reviewed Jay-Z's book explaining his discography ("Decoded") alongside “The Anthology of Rap,” a nine-hundred-page compendium published by two English professors who argue that rap should be considered a form of modern poetry. I won't touch that argument; poets and English professors are notoriously violent. But one part of the article bears particular relevance to advocates: Too often, hip-hop’s embrace of crime narratives has been portrayed as a flaw or a mistake, a regrettable detour from the overtly ideological rhymes of groups like Public Enemy. But in Jay-Z’s view Public Enemy is an anomaly. “You rarely become ... Continue Reading

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A Look Behind The Scenes Of A Multi-Million Dollar Personal Injury Verdict

[Update: Judge Massiah-Jackson upheld the verdict and overruled the defendants' post-trial motions. Now comes the appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.] [Update 2: The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed, citing three grounds. First, the Superior Court took issue with the trial court's instruction that, "in order for you to find that something other than the exercise bike caused Mrs. Polett’s injuries, you must be provided with medical testimony that something else other than the bike caused those injuries. You may not speculate on what else could have caused Mrs. Polett to be injured." The Superior Court held that instruction "palpably misled ... Continue Reading

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Investing In Lawsuits, Part III: Here Come The Banks and Hedge Funds

On Sunday, the New York Times returned to third-party funding of lawsuits with "Investors Put Money on Lawsuits to Get Payouts:" Large banks, hedge funds and private investors hungry for new and lucrative opportunities are bankrolling other people’s lawsuits, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into medical malpractice claims, divorce battles and class actions against corporations — all in the hope of sharing in the potential winnings. ... Total investments in lawsuits at any given time now exceed $1 billion, several industry participants estimated. Although no figures are available on the number of lawsuits supported by lenders, public records from ... Continue Reading

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The Truth About Those Blockbuster Birth Injury / Obstetrical Malpractice Jury Verdicts

Of the over one million people injured or killed annually by preventable medical malpractice, only a fraction have their claims reviewed by the legal system. We can't be sure how small that fraction is — since the health care industry spends millions of dollars every year convincing Congress to frustrate error-reporting — but we know it is small, since only approximately 85,000 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed, less than 10% of those million annual "iatrogenic" incidents. In the bulk of incidents, either the patient (or their survivors) don't even suspect that malpractice occurred, or they suspect that malpractice occurred and ... Continue Reading

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Attorney-Client Privilege In Pennsylvania Needs A Refurbishing

[UPDATE: On November 19, 2010, the Pennsylvania Superior Court granted en banc reargument and withdrew the opinion discussed below. Stay tuned.] [UPDATE II: On February 24, 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided Gillard, W. v. AIG Insurance Co., et al., No. 10 EAP 2010, which clarified an unsettled point in Pennsylvania attorney-client privilege law, namely the extent to which communications from the attorney to the client are privileged. The Supreme Court found that such communications are generally privileged the same extent as communications from the client to the attorney are privileged. A copy of the opinion is available here. I wrote more about ... Continue Reading

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