Today I’d like to share with you an actual one  page outline I used in opening statement in  a very major damage case resulting in a record  jury  verdict. The case involved a man who contacted a power line with a metal pole he was using  while installing a bill board  postor sheet. The electrical force knocked him off  the platform where was standing to the ground a long distance below. He was badly burned and had to have three partial limb amputations. The suit was for his injuries and consortium claims for his wife and children. I’m adding very brief notes of explanation about the entries.



(Jurors want to be part of something important)

(I never have the injured client in the courtroom in major damage cases
except for jury selection & their testimony)

3. INTRODUCE: (1) Lita (2) Mike Dodge
(My wife Lita was a law partner helping me but not at counsel table.
Mike Dodge was our tech running equipment. I didn’t want the jury
Distracted wondering who they were)

B. BURNS – See Burn Injury Checklist

C. OTHER INJURIES See Power Point:
1. Family photo
2. Medical history
3. Injury diagram
4. Amputations
5. Quad injury
6. Treatment to now
7. Impact of massive injuries

D. DAMAGE CONCEPTS See Power Point exhibits

1. Damage appraisal: two time periods, two kinds of damage & seven claims
(I emphasize need to appraise past & future, that economic damages are
very different then non-economic and that there were claims by client,
spouse and each child to appraise.)
2. Elements of appraisal: damage factors
3. Jeff Kuntz non economic damages
4. Jeffs attitude: takes personal responsibility
(The defense alleged contributory negligence. I conceded it, but maintained
It was between 5 and 10% at most. This was based upon focus studies)
5. Jeffs non economic damages: burns, phantom pain, dependency: elements


1. See Marital sheet (They had been having marital problems. I decided
to discuss them openly rather then try to cover it up)

F. MOM & CHILDREN See Power Point Exhibits
1. Jennifer: loss of consortium past and future
2. Children: loss of consortium past and future

G. DAILY ACTIVITY VIDEO 4 minutes long (I never use anything longer than 5 – 10 minutes for this kind of video. I want high impact and high attention from jurors)

H. CONCEPT OF JUSTICE See Power Point exhibits
1. Photos
2. Scale of justice
2. Total verdict all parties (blank)
3. Damage appraisal in dollars
(I use a PowerPoint of a scale to argue the dollars must
Balance the harm done. I explain the jury verdict form and
How to fill it in. I tell the jury I will explain how to appraise
The harm in dollars at the end of the case)

About Paul Luvera

Plaintiff trial lawyer for 50 years. Past President of the Inner Circle of Advocates & Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. Member American Board of Trial Advocates, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy, International Society of Barristers, member of the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame & speaker at Spence Trial College
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