...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

March 21, 2004

Results Of Linda’s Trial

Last week i wrote about the trial i was helping my friend Linda with. She represented the defendant and made her closing argument on Friday. The jury came back after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

The jury found our client negligent, but only awarded $1800 to the injured plaintiff, the amount of her medical bills. The jury unanimously awarded nothing to the wife for pain and suffering and nothing to the husband for loss of consortium.

The jury’s verdict was substantially below Linda’s last offer before trial. i could tell by the look on the plaintiffs’ faces as they walked out of the courtroom on Friday that they regretted not taking the pre-trial offer.

We suspect that the jury did not like the way the plaintiffs were making a mountain out of a molehill, especially in regard to the loss of consortium claim. Linda tells me that it's very hard for plaintiff attorneys to get good verdicts on cases that only involve minor muscle strains. The more money the plaintiffs ask for, the less the jury seems to like them, she says.

i was impressed with Linda’s skill as a cross-examiner and her eloquent closing argument. This was only her third trial, but i’d never have known it by watching her. Of course it’s the first real trial i’ve ever seen, but i thought the plaintiffs’ attorney was far less prepared than Linda.

i told Linda how great i thought she had been, but she was characteristically humble. “The facts won this case, not me,” she said.

“But you were so much better than the other lawyer,” i said. “You laid some traps for him that he had no idea how to get out of.” That was true, Linda got the plaintiff’s doctor to admit to a couple of innocuous facts during cross-examination and then during closing she sprung the trap by using those facts in a way that the other attorney had not anticipated. He didn’t see her argument coming and so he had no answer to it in his rebuttal. It was beautiful.

Linda has less of an ego than any lawyer i’ve ever met. She simply refused to take credit for her trial victory. She thanked me profusely for my help, even though the judge denied both of the motions in limine that i wrote.

Friday, after work, Linda and i met up with our other team members, Grace, Paul, Patricia and Kathy for a round of Guinnesses. Finally, we got Linda to admit that she was good.

“Well, if there’s one thing I did do well,” she said, “it’s that i didn’t let [the plaintiffs’ attorney] get away with any mistakes.”

i agreed. She really exploited every weakness in the plaintiffs’ case, including some weaknesses that i didn’t see at first. Linda had this way of taking the arguments that the other guy thought were very clever and turning them around to use against him. i don’t know how she did it, but if i ever make it through law school, i want her to teach me.

Posted by annika, Mar. 21, 2004 |
Rubric: Legal Mumbo Jumbo


“The facts won this case, not me,” she said.

You may have heard this before, but if you have the facts on your side, pound on the facts; if you the law on your side, pound on the law; and if you have neither on your side, pound on the table.

Linda had this way of taking the arguments that the other guy thought were very clever and turning them around to use against him.

Rhetorical jiu-jitsu. It's a thing of beauty...much like the look on opposing counsle's face when they first realize they've made your case for you.

Posted by: Dave J on Mar. 21, 2004

Hey Annika! Thought I would let you know that you are the "contributor" of the month for SoulParking.com. Go to www.soulparking.com/home - I wish I could send you a t-shirt, stickers, German beer, or Cuban cigars... But I can´t... Unless I travel to LA soon (my hometown actually - that´s where i was conceived and born) I can only offer you fame. Sorry to fill up your comments - actually - I am not sorry... Keep blogging girlfriend...!

Posted by: gsj on Mar. 22, 2004

Congrats to all.

I'm happy that the husband's loss of consortium argument didn't gain him anything. Sounded like selfish greed to me.

Posted by: jen on Mar. 22, 2004

what a crock.
maybe if the wife
was amazingly hot.
I'm glad she won
I'm glad you helped
Many guinnei were had
Many bellies were belched.

Happy monday! it's f'in over!

Posted by: Scof on Mar. 22, 2004

So she turned the argument around on him. I never met a woman that couldn't.

Posted by: Casca on Mar. 22, 2004

What a waste of everyone's time. What a stupid ass suit to begin with. This thing should have never gone to trial.

However, great practice for you Annika.

Next case!!

Posted by: joe on Mar. 22, 2004

Well, Joe, I'd point out that whether suits for consortium should exist or not (I certainly think they shouldn't) is really a policy choice to be made by the legislature, so as long as it hasn't acted, it would be overreaching by a court to simply toss out consortium claims.

Posted by: Dave J on Mar. 23, 2004

With all due respect Dave, far be from me to even remotely question the linear leanings of the legislature.

Hey, get the legislature working on frivolous medical law suits so you and I and the rest of the US won't have to pay exhorbitant health insurance.

I reiterate, "Next case!!"

Posted by: joe on Mar. 23, 2004

Funny you would say that Dave, because in California the right to sue for Loss of Consortium was not created by the California legislature, but by an activist supreme court in 1977! the sole dissenting justice on that case said something like "I dissent because I think this is something for the legislature to do."

Posted by: annika! on Mar. 23, 2004

Found it. The case was called Rodriguez v. Bethlehem Steel, Corp. It was actually from 1974.

Posted by: annika! on Mar. 23, 2004

Hmmm. That's quite interesting. I don't have the time to read the opinion right now, but I was under the impression that loss of consortium was a fairly longstanding (if spectacularly stupid) common-law tort, going back to England, not a recent invention. Just goes to show I'm not terribly familiar with the subject, although I have little doubt that I'd agree with the dissent.

But what can you expect from a staffer for a state legislature? ;-)

Posted by: Dave J on Mar. 24, 2004

Congrats on the win. A friend of mine is a clerk for a PI attorney, and told me of a colleague of the attorney's who'd been offered $1 million, then $6 million (before the trial), then $15 million (as the jury went in) by the City of Chicago on a case.

The jury's verdict. For the plaintiff.

The award? $0.

Oh, and he took it on contingent. He took it another way, too.

Posted by: greg on Mar. 26, 2004