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Trying an Asbestos Case - How to Get the "W"
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Trying an Asbestos Case - How to Get the "W"

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  • 1. Preparing  the Plaintiff and  Defendant for Deposition and  Trial Presented by  Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson,  Counsel Miles & Stockbridge, P.C. Baltimore, Maryland  January 25, 2011January 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 1
  • 2. Important Considerations in  Preparing Your Case • 85% of jurors vote consistent with their views after opening statements (Chicago Jury Study) • The earlier you challenge the foundation for juror anger and corporate mistrust, the better your chance for success • Develop a theme that allows jurors to feel good about finding in favor of DefendantJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 2
  • 3. Preparing your Witness for  Deposition and Trial  • Fact Witness • Corporate Designee • Expert Witness Choosing and properly preparing the right witness is key to neutralizing Plaintiff’s efforts to stir up juror anger and mistrustJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 3
  • 4. FACT Witness ‐ Who, What,  Where and Why? Investigation should be BROAD Preparation should have a CLEAR and LIMITED objective Testimony limited to personal knowledge onlyJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 4
  • 5. CORPORATE DESIGNEE  Factors to consider:  Do you need one?  Who should be offered  Credible, Compassionate, Comfortable  Type of Plaintiff  Type of DefendantJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 5
  • 6. EXPERT Witness  • Who do you need? • Expert’s practical experience • Credibility • Jurors are more impressed by an Expert’s demeanor during direct and cross examination; clarity of expression, knowledge of facts and documents to support opinions, use of visual aids • Prior Testimony and Statements • JurisdictionJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 6
  • 7. Preparing for Trial – the  Nervous Witness Possible Causes for Fear: • Feeling unprepared • First time witness • Prior experience with opposing counselJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 7
  • 8. Preparing for Trial – the  Nervous Witness Address the Fear: • PREPARE … PREPARE … PREPARE … • Explain the case/theme in detail (as many times as necessary) • Review documents, exhibits, videos (as many times as necessary) • De-mystify the legal process • Clearly state your expectations of the witness • Humanize opposing counselJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 8
  • 9. Preparing for Trial – the  Hostile Witness Possible Causes for Hostility: • Bias • Sympathetic to Plaintiff • Inherent dislike of Defendant • Witness’ own cause of action • ArroganceJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 9
  • 10. Preparing for Trial – the Hostile Witness Defuse the Impact of the Hostility: • Set a clear and limited objective for examination • Cut witness off at pass • Establish areas of agreement • Be yourself • Be agile, mobile but not hostile • Know when to shut up and sit down • Lead the witness (if necessary) • Be conscious of your audience • Know your judgeJanuary 25, 2011 | Trying an Asbestos Case ‐ How to Get the ʺWʺ, HB Litigation Conference, Presented by Deborah K. St. Lawrence Thompson 10