To win higher punitive damages, you will need to underscore the importance of deterrence to your jury.
To kick-start the new year and decade, the team at Jury Analyst sat down with Brian Panish, host of our podcast Get in the Game, to answer some listener questions. Brian is one of the country’s leading trial attorneys, so we’re grateful for his time and hope you find his tips as interesting as we do.
This is the second post from our 2020 Q&A with Coach. Stay tuned for the release of the full 2020 Q&A podcast with Brian Panish on Friday, January 17th!
The next question concerns how to win higher punitive damages for your clients. More specifically, our listener wanted to know: When you have punitive damages and you’re asking for close to $75 million, how do you handle the hesitancy of a jury to award that much money to a single plaintiff?
Well, in a punitive damages case it all starts in the very beginning with the voir dire. And you start talking to jurors about what is the purpose of punitive damages, which is to punish someone for wrongdoing and also to deter others from doing it. And you have to make it about much more than an individual. And it’s not a windfall for one person. What it is is a punishment for bad conduct, but it’s more importantly used to deter others from doing that. So in the beginning if you’re asking for $75 million, whatever that figure is, obviously the company would have to be a large company to sustain a verdict of 75 million in punitive damages. And sometimes I might tell the jury at the very beginning, at the end of the day when it’s time to discuss damages and what are called punitives, but they’re also called exemplary damages. And I make a point of saying exemplary damages are used to set an example and that’s what you’re going to be doing. And you’re not to be concerned with the amount of the money, who’s paying it, if it ever gets paid. That’s not your job in this case. And if somebody brings that up, you need to tell the judge that they’re not following the law.
This is the second post from our 2020 Q&A with Brian Panish. In the first post, Coach advises how to develop and retain young attorneys. Check it out here.