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4 trial tips that led to our $4.6 million jury verdict for a traumatic brain injury – in 25 minutes

October 9, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan Lawyers Weekly interviews attorneys Bobby Raitt and Alison Duffy on their winning trial strategies for woman injured by falling chairs at CVS

Robert Raitt

Attorney Alison Duffy

Last week, I shared the news that Bobby Raitt and Alison Duffy secured a $4.616 million jury verdict (plus impending trial sanctions) for an elderly woman who sustained a traumatic brain injury when she was hit by falling chairs at CVS.

Bobby and Alison were able to prove that the August 2012 incident could easily have been avoided if only CVS had followed its own safety procedures. The case has been in the media this week, and rightly so. People don’t expect to go to the corner CVS drug store for an errand and come home a different person.

And it’s a story about accountability when important safety rules aren’t followed.  CVS failed to take any responsibility for the negligent acts that caused our client to suffer a brain injury and to be seriously injured for the rest of her life.

On Monday, Michigan Lawyers Weekly covered the case and highlighted Bobby and Alison’s winning trial tactics. You can read the full Michigan Lawyers Weekly story here, “$4.6 million verdict in 25 minutes.”

Here are a few key points from the story that can help other personal injury lawyers in trial:

1. Prove the traumatic brain injury: “Raitt said the biggest challenge at trial was proving how much damage a falling chair would cause when striking a person on the head and how a TBI could be manifested if the MRIs did not show it. So Raitt had two neurologists, and a neuropsychologist, explain how TBI occurs and its disabling effects, even when the MRIs show no deficits. The plaintiff, her family, and a co-worker then describer the injury’s life-altering effects with before-and-after examples.”

2. Enhance the head injury victim’s credibility: “Raitt said her credibility was further enhanced because she did everything she could do to get better, such as treating for three years and not “waiting at home on the couch to collect. … Those types of things usually impress juries.”

3. Attack inconsistent testimony: “Raitt added that attacking a defendant’s inconsistent testimony also makes an impression on jurors, which is what he said he did when the CVS assistant manager took the stand.”

4. Is there surveillance? Raitt and Duffy made an argument regarding the store’s video surveillance system. “… all 12 participants at a mock trial he conducted wanted to know whether the store had video of the incident. At interrogatory, he asked the defense about it, for which the defense replied that no video picked up the accident:

“So we simply made the argument to the jury at closing, that if [the plaintiff] had stolen a pack of gum, we would have video of it,” he told Michigan Lawyers Weekly. “I mean, why do you put video surveillance in? You don’t do it to only show part of the store. And I got a lot of nods from the jury.””

It only took the jury 25 minutes to decide it wanted to award the plaintiff injury victim $4.6 million.

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