Faced with a number of options as jurors are when deliberating a verdict, people will often make decisions by translating each option into how they would feel emotionally about the anticipated outcome. The option that yields the most preferred emotional outcome is more likely to be chosen.
For example, improving safety is both a practical and moral action. Any verdict that encourages companies to improve safety feels good. The thinking goes roughly like this: “If we can’t make them care about safety because it’s the right thing to do, maybe we can make them care about safety because it’s the more profitable thing to do.” Being virtuous, on the side of what is right for the common or greater good, makes it easier for jurors to justify huge verdicts. People can feel good about themselves making such a decision.
Plaintiff’s counsel can use the above to help get the desired outcome. Defense counsel can use an understanding of the above to considerably weaken such an argument by pointing out all through the case the many ways in which the company already attends to safety.
There are, after all, two sides to every coin.
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I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed on “Legal Talk Network,” produced by the State Bar of Michigan. The subject was connecting with your clients. Here’s the interview link: