Recently, ahead of a case involving an eight-figure demand, our New York Trial Team conducted an expansive Juror Verdict Evaluation exercise, with five different combinations of facts that varied depending on which damages category was eliminated and therefore not presented to the jurors. The team's strategy at trial will be to seek to preclude these various categories of damages based on a lack of evidentiary support.
For each of the five scenarios, a representative sample of 100 jury-eligible respondents were recruited from counties that matched the demographics of the upcoming trial's venue of New York County (Manhattan) as closely as possible. After being pre-screened for conflicts, participants signed into a secure website, where they answered survey questions pertaining to their demographics, attitudes, and case-related experiences. The respondents then watched a script video, which was edited and reframed depending on which scenario was being presented. Jurors answered questions about the relative importance of each piece of evidence, provided their verdict orientation, and, finally, the amount of damages that they would award if they were a juror in this case.
One scenario, termed "worst case" for the defendants, played the accident video and had jurors evaluate all components of damages. Another scenario did not play the accident video but had jurors evaluate all damages. Comparing the results from these two scenarios allowed us to see the impact the accident video may have on juror awards. The remaining scenarios eliminated a category of damages and played the video.
Working with an agency that specializes in this type of exercise, the team ran 1000 simulations for each juror award to determine high, low, and median range results. The most notable benefit from this exercise was seeing the rationale behind juror awards and their impression of the defense's arguments. Often, this type of insight is only available at the end of a trial, after a verdict is rendered. Additionaly, the team noticed many overlaps between the jury awards and comments on evidence, which is statistically relevant considering there were 500 juror participants over the five scenarios.
Overall, the exercise gave an excellent bird's eye view of general case reactions and allowed the team to test both the plaintiff's and defendant's damages theories.