The Most Important Thing For Any Trial Witness To Remember
6/5/2009Sometimes those of us who litigate and try cases for a living, whether in the context of small business litigation, personal injury or defective products lawsuits, tend to get "tunnel vision," and fail to see the forest for the trees. That's why an otherwise unremarkable jury verdict out of the Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York is important: it is a potent reminder to trial lawyers everywhere to remain mindful of the credibility of your witnesses in evaluating the viability and value your case.
In this particular case, there was a stark factual discrepancy between the plaintiff, who alleged that he was pushed off the roof of a 3 story apartment building by a police officer that was chasing him, and the police officer's claim that the plaintiff was in the process of running away from the police when the plaintiff lost his grip on the roof's ledge.
The jury sided with the plaintiff, finding more credible the claim by plaintiff. I suspect that the reason they bought plaintiff's version of events is because he conceded that the police officer did not intend to push him off the roof; according to the plaintiff, the police officer merely intended to push him off of a short 2 foot high paparet wall. And by conceding that small point, or "giving a little," he got a lot: the jury awarded him $4.6 million in damages for his personal injuries, which were quite severe: a fractured spine which resulted in paralysis.
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