The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position after a jury verdict for plaintiff. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.
(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this bus accident/brain injury case and its proceedings.)
An argument that asks jurors how much money it would take to trade places with a severely injured plaintiff is impermissible for several reasons. First, “it in effect asks each juror to become a personal partisan advocate for the injured party, rather than an unbiased and unprejudiced weigher of the evidence.” (Cassim, supra, 33 Cal.4th at 798.) Second, it tends to denigrate the jurors’ oath to . . . render a true verdict according to the evidence. (Ibid.) Third, it can “tend to induce each juror to consider a higher figure than he otherwise might to avoid being considered self-abasing.” (Loth v. Truck-A-Way Corp., supra, 60 Cal.App.4th at p. 765.)
During closing argument in this case, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury what amount of money it would take to convince someone, reading a newspaper advertisement, to submit voluntarily to the bus accident and injuries sustained by the plaintiff. Specifically, plaintiff’s counsel argued:
Say there is a classified ad in the newspaper that said: temporary job, sign up April the 7th and hold that job almost two years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. . . . All you have to do: If you see a bus coming at you in the crosswalk, let it strike you, hit your head on the pavement, and then go to San Francisco — [defense counsel’s objection overruled] and then you go to San Francisco General Hospital. . . . So the ad says that after the pressure keeps rising, you just have to submit yourself to craniectomy. They go in and actually remove a part of the skull.
For a year this job requires a – temporary job requires you to wear a helmet on your head for protection. Why would you wear the helmet on your heard for protection? Because you’ve got to go around with about half your head missing, for a year. (See Part 7 of 11.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.