Damages and death cases are often some of the more difficult types of losses we try to juries. We start with the problem of existing bias in most jurors about the subject of death and damages. People often feel that “money won’t bring them back,” or “it’s wrong for someone to get rich over the death of a loved one,” and “time heals all wounds.” Furthermore, it is difficult to put into words ideas that resonate with the idea of damages in a death action. Analogies involving the value of paintings and military aircraft are helpful. Using examples of kidnapping or the payment of money to regain health and survival are often beneficial. Another is the use of song lyrics, poetry and literature. For example, some years ago, a collection of short articles was published on the subject of family. One of the articles was entitled What is a Wife? Part of the description was:
“When God created the world, he must surely have looked into the future and been puzzled – all those things to be cared for and kept straight! All those beings to be fed; all those electric cords that won’t work; those clothes to be picked up; and what about those forever – tracked – up kitchen floors? So, he created a woman to keep men presentable and the world neat and in good working order. If it weren’t for wife’s, 1 billion men from Murmansk to Miami would be hungry, unshaved, hungry, unhappy and buttonless.”
In the publication there was an article What is a Girl? The Author wrote:
“A little girl likes new shoes, party dresses, small animals, first grade, noisemakers, the girl next door, make – believe, dancing lessons, ice cream, kitchens, coloring books, makeup, going visiting, tea parties, and one boy. She doesn’t care much for visitors, boys in general, large dogs, hand-me– downs, straight chairs, vegetables, snow suits or staying in the front yard. She is loudest when you’re thinking, the prettiest when she has provoked you, the busiest at bedtime, the quietest when you want to show her off, and the most flirtatious when she absolutely must not get the best of you again.”
Song lyrics are also a source of ideas for communicating a loss from the death of a loved one to a jury. For example Jim Croce song Time in a Bottle has lyrics that are relevant.
“If I could save time in a bottle the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day till eternity passes away just to spend them with you. If I could make these last forever if words could make wishes come true I’d save every day like a treasure and then again I would spend them with you.”
Country-western singer George Jones had a hit song A Picture of Me Without You with these lyrics:
“Imagine a world where no music was playing then think of a church where no one’s praying if you’ve ever looked up at a sky with no blue that you seen a picture of me without you
Have you ever walked in a garden where nothing was growing or stood by a river where nothing was flowing if you seen a red rose not kissed by the dew then you seen a picture of me without you”
Death has been described in poetry for centuries. Some poems are particularly suitable for cases of damages in a death action. Take the famous poem by W. H. Auden Stop All the Clocks, Cut Off the Telephone:
“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, silence the pianos and with muffled drum bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead scribbling on the sky the message he is dead, put crêpe bow around the white necks of public doves, let the traffic policeman wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and my West, my working week and my Sunday rest, my noon my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; pack up the moon and dismantled the sun; pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote many poems. One of the more famous is his poem which has these words:
“Live’s of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.
Footprints, that perhaps another, sailing or life’s solemn Maine, a forlorn and shipwrecked brother seeing, shall take heart again”
These are just a few examples of meaningful literature, song lyrics and poetry that perhaps can enhance our damages with a jury. Depending upon the age of your jurors you can search for more relevant material that might appeal to the jurors in your case. It is an alternative to damage presentation worth considering.