MISCELLANOUS ARGUMENT CAPSULES

MISCELLANOUS ARGUMENT CAPSULES

I’m reviewing my notes about argument and decided I’d share some. These are just summaries and a mixture of concepts in raw form. You would need to expand and improve each of them, but maybe there are some ideas here that might be helpful to you.

  • When this courthouse was planned they didn’t just pull a number out of the air for the cost of construction. Instead they calculated each of the items that go into the construction and added it up to determine the total cost. The same thing is true when we go to a supermarket to shop. The clerk doesn’t take a look at the items you put on the counter we collected and say “Oh, why not $120?” No, each item is rung up and totaled. We pay the total of each item. When an injured person comes to a jury for an appraisal of the proper amount to account for their  injuries the same process should be followed. Each of the elements of damage should be weighed and appraised based upon how serious it is and how long it has and will last and not just pick some lump sum number that sounds right.
  • While the total amount I have suggested to you for a verdict in this case appears to be a lot of money, and it is, we have to consider it the same way we consider buying our home by mortgage payments. Our payments are made monthly over a period of years and not just a lump sum paid all at the same time. I wish I could tell you that we could come back each year and report how Joe is doing to determine the amount for  that year for his pain and disability, but the law requires it to all to be paid at one time so we have to fix the amount for now and forever in one verdict.
  • This case is like a car that has been damaged in a collision caused by somebody else. However they don’t want to pay the full repair bill. In  fact, they don’t want to pay anything and if they do have to pay it the only want to pay part of it and not the full bill.
  • There has been talk here by defendant’s lawyer  about the plaintiffs health and physical condition before the collision.  He wasn’t in perfect health, who is,  but he was functioning just fine. Suppose a farmer had 100 dozen eggs in the back of his pickup truck. Suppose they are all broken  on the way to market because of another car crashed into his pickup.Now wouldn’t you think the defense lawyer in that situation would be out of his mind to argue you should not pay the farmer for the eggs because if they had been golf balls not one of them would’ve been broken.  The defendant doesn’t have the right to make that argument. The defendant must take people as they are and as they find them. They are obligated to pay for the damage. Suppose they were not eggs, but it was a horse in the back of pickup. The question would be what kind of a horse was it? A plow horse or racehorse. Was it Nashua the day before he was sold for $1,200,000 ? If it was Nashua he was worth $1.2 million dollars. Shouldn’t  the defendant have to pay the for the entire damage  caused?  But,  what you say about oil painting that was destroyed in the collision and was worth $5 million? Doesn’t  the same thing apply? The defendant is obligated to pay for the damage done, in full.
  • Suppose a farmer is driving his old pickup truck and another car runs a stop sign it and damages the truck. The farmer is not injured but the fenders are bent and the windows are broken in his truck. The jury wouldn’t have much trouble determining the proper amount to compensate. You would say give him the kind of truck he had before it was in the collision. He’s not entitled to a new truck because it wasn’t new, but he  is also not required to drive around with the truck with smashed up fenders and a broken windshield because it didn’t have that either. A fair result would be the cost of putting the truck back in the same condition it was before the collision. That’s what you need to do in this case.
  • A hospital is supposed to be a place where we are safe and carefully cared for so we can get better.  You’re supposed to be guarded. You’re supposed to be watched over. You supposed to be protected from any additional harm. This was not a hotel. It is a place that supposed to be staffed by people who are trained to watch over and attend to the needs of patients. When they fail to do that they have failed to do their duty. If a hospital is not prepared to treat its patients properly it should not admit the patients and take their money. If it does,  it says to the people they admit that by taking their money and admitting: “you may come in and stay here.  We are prepared to care for you and take care of you and help you become well again.”
  • When life or liberty is in the hands of the lawyer he or she realizes the terrible responsibility that they have. They fear some word will be left unspoken or some thought will be forgotten to be said. I would not be telling you the truth if I told you that I did not fear the results of this important case. Not because of you but because of my failure to do what is expected of me. When my judgment and reason take counsel with my fears, I am even more afraid. (Clarence Darrow)
  • There are hundreds of lawyers in this state and for some reason fate has picked me to be the one to represent this deserving person. I’m scared to death that I may not do it right. But, together, you and I are going to make history in this case by doing the right thing.
  • your verdict means something in this case. It means more than the fate of this man. It is not often a case is submitted to 12 people where the decision may mean a milestone in the progress of medical care but this case does. I hope and trust you have a feeling of responsibility that will make you do your duty as citizens of this great nation and is members of the human family in this community and accomplish great things by your verdict.
  • He was a fragile piece of china – a cracked vase. Nevertheless he was functioning until the harm that the defendant did to him took place.
  • (Gerry Spence talking about representing the people who were objecting to drilling projects for oil in an environmental sensitive area of Wyoming) “Were going to drive the snakes out of the garden of Eden.”
  • The smallest drop of water when constant can penetrate the hardest of stone.
  • A fence at the top of a hill is better than an ambulance in the valley below.
  • “So then, the eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you. Nor can  the head say to the feet, well I don’t need you….And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it… ” (1 Corinthians 12)
  • it is obvious that this is an injury not just to this plaintiff but to his family unit. You cannot injure one member of the family, particularly the head of the family, without injuring the whole family unit. It is like throwing a stone into a pool of water. Waves are sent out further and the waves get larger and touch the lives of people around the plaintiff. It affects the children and the wife and everyone they come in contact with. It puts a strain upon the emotional bond the family unit.
  • The amount of care that is required by someone depends upon the circumstances. If you were loading potatoes into a truck and were throwing the sacks into the back of the truck, you wouldn’t be too concerned if you let a potato or two fall on the ground. On the other hand, if you  were loading dangerous explosive material, think how carefully you would place it in the back of the truck and how carefully it would be stored. Both acts would have  been done with ordinary care. Ordinary care in loading potatoes and ordinary care in loading a dangerous explosives are two different things. In this case the defendant was handling a dangerous instrument and should have exercised that amount of care that it called for.
  • Don’t we all believe that: all men and women are entitled to be treated equally under the law; all men and women have a right to the pursuit of happiness; thrift and hardware should be rewarded; people should bear up under diversity to the best of their ability; justice should be available to everyone and if a man owes a debt they ought to pay it full to the penny.,
  • Suppose you are shopping for car at a used car lot. The salesman tells you that this car that he’s recommending was in a wreck, the frame was bent and it was damaged but now it’s all been straightened out  and everything has been fixed. Even though the damage been repaired and the car looks great we know it will never be as good as before it was damaged. People people aren’t cars and damage to our bodies and minds are long lasting.
  • We can put people in prison  and we could even put them to death for their crimes, but we are never allowed to injure or torture people.
  • Jurors, you are the community and you set the standards for this community. The owner of the store says to people: “come into my store and buy something.” He doesn’t say: “come into my store and watch the floor while you walk around for anything dangerous that might make you slip or fall.” That’s because there’s nothing to buy on the floor. No, he says: “come in, don’t worry about the floor. I’ll take care of the floor, look up the shelves for something to buy.” When the store owner distracts your attention from the zone of danger on the floor, the patron should not be held liable. Otherwise  the store owner should be required to put the merchandise on the floor instead of on the shelf. I say to you that if this defect was one foot  higher Joe Brown would’ve seen it. People in the store are entitled to have things on their mind and to be distracted by the merchandise and trying to get them to buy something. It is the store owner who has the duty to look down and to inspect and to protect patrons from injury.
  • The defendant always argues that the defect is too small or too large that caused the plaintiff  to fall. They argue that the defect was too small for the defendant to have seen or noticed or been concerned. Or they argue that the defect is so big the plaintiff  should have seen  it. The defect is never just right. It is always too big or too small. I’ve never had a case where the defense lawyer concedes that the defect was just the  right size.
  • The defense would like you to believe that the 45 minutes their hired defense doctor examined the plaintiff was the most important 45 minutes of the plaintiffs life. They want to ignore the testimony of family friends neighbors and others who have been involved with the plaintiff over the past months. They want you to believe the many hours the treating doctor saw the plaintiff wasn’t important. Does that make sense to you?

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