Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today's Jurors’ Mixed Feelings About Corporations

National research (Harris Interactive, 2009) shows that a majority of Americans place “a lot” of blame on banks (76%), Wall Street (57%) and big business (55%). In these difficult and trying times, juror attitudes are changing. It is inevitable that among your jurors there will be those who are recently un-employed, some for the first time in their work-lives, and those who have lost savings, homes, opportunities, even careers.

This has corporate defendants very concerned, for if corporations have often fared poorly in jurors’ eyes, they are doing even worse now. However, this is hardly the time for plaintiff’s counsel to cry “Huzzah,” for along with the public’s disdain for corporate greed and malfaisance, comes the public’s disapproval of any case that smacks of the frivolous or the not “truly madly deeply” justified, especially if plaintiff’s win would mean a cut in jobs for employees.

At least some of the jurors in any given panel understand the consequence of large awards. Don’t forget that among the currently unemployed are many who were in the upper-middle white collar strata of the workforce, and that these unemployed are able to educate their less-informed fellow jurors on the realities of what happens to employees, their jobs, wages and benefits, when corporations are hit with huge verdicts.

Whether representing plaintiff or defendant, keep in mind the current composition of your jury pool and current juror attitudes. This will go far in helping you win your case.