Feb 22, 2022

Are We Still the Good Guys? A Discussion of How to Combat a Jury's Desire to Award Punitive Damages

Mark Silver was a member of a panel that presented “Are We Still the Good Guys?: A Discussion of How to Combat a Jury’s Desire to Award Punitive Damages” at the 2022 Midyear Meeting of the International Association of Defense Counsel in Scottsdale, AZ. 

Mark discussed how jurors' perception of the legal profession has evolved over the decades. Perry Mason wore the white hat and never lost a case. L.A. Law single-handedly created the largest law school enrollment boom in the nations' history. However, the days of idealized practices and glowing perceptions may be long-gone. Modern-day television contains an overwhelmingly negative depiction of the practice of law as well as corporate defendants, and recent world events have only strengthened and engrained jurors’ preconceived opinions, impacting the way jurors interpret evidence and deliberate. The differences of opinions are more pronounced and more problematic for defendants facing punitive damages claims. In fact, as the portrayal of attorneys and large corporations has continued to become more negative over time, punitive damages awards have increased.

Mark’s presentation reviewed the various factors affecting juror perceptions and the potential correlation with higher punitive damage awards, as well as tips for how trial lawyers can effectively cater to the jury and minimize punitive damages.