There are obviously many factors that go into evaluating a case and deciding whether to settle, battle it out at mediation, or go to trial – and how to identify and present the strongest arguments – but one of the most important aspects is trial venue. We have found that no matter how good the science, documentation or the witnesses, sometimes the jurisdiction, combined with the type of lawsuit, can prevent jurors from viewing the case fairly and making decisions based solely on the evidence.
This, of course, is the reason we fly on a weekly basis across the country to conduct research: Juror perspectives, life experiences, values and worldviews vary widely from state to state, county to county, city to city, and even neighborhood to neighborhood, and it is important to talk to members of the jury pool and understand how their unique viewpoints can shape their views on a case and affect defensibility.
For example, we do a lot of research in South Florida, and have noticed a widespread predisposition among residents that other drivers are “horrendous” and “god awful.” (If you have ever driven the I-95 near Miami, you certainly understand this is not a radical opinion.) However, when evaluating a case involving an auto accident, you can see how these gravely negative perceptions of the driving population could significantly affect how jurors view the case and the credibility of witnesses.
In another example, certain areas around the country have become notorious for prescription drug abuse, and local news programs and articles frequently focus on this issue. As you can imagine, that news coverage, in addition to personal experience with friends and family members struggling with pain pill addiction, can feed opinions among the local jury pool and automatically cause some jurors to view pain management doctors in a negative light due to perceptions they “overprescribe.” Therefore, it is vital to gauge perceptions among the populace to understand if biases and personal experiences will cause a jury to ignore the law, increase awards or otherwise prevent the defense from getting a fair shake at trial.
No matter what the lawsuit involves – breach of contract, accounting fraud, long-distance trucking, surgery-gone-wrong, car accidents, product liability, employee overtime disputes, sexual harassment – the trial venue can determine the difference between resolving it early or taking it all the way to the courtroom. After all, our national survey data shows jurors in Buffalo are likely to view icy slip-and-falls differently than San Diego residents who have never seen snow in their lives – and it is beneficial to understand how geography can influence opinions, verdicts and damages.
If you want to understand how jurors in your particular trial venue for an upcoming case will view the facts, arguments, witnesses – and why – please contact Senior Vice President Claire Luna at email@example.com or 714.754.1010.