Bisnar Chase Trial Attorney Utilizes Focus Groups For Success
Developed by personal injury lawyer Don Keenan and renowned trial consultant David Ball, Reptile is an approach to personal injury cases that is proving to be an invaluable tool in a personal injury lawyer’s arsenal.
H. Gavin Long, a personal injury attorney with Bisnar Chase who has had a tremendous track record, successfully used the Reptile approach in a recent trial, which resulted in a $3 million jury verdict for his client. Long said he learned, with this approach, to take the emphasis of the case off his client and place it on the jury.
He utilized a focus group not only to understand how jurors think and act but also to help discover the “true weaknesses” in the case.
A Client Who Was Partly at Fault
Long’s case involved a client who got injured when he was struck by a car. But, the client was out on the street trying to rescue a neighbor’s injured dog. While all other vehicles slowed down seeing the client and his friend on the street, the defendant did not stop, but drove at 35 mph and struck the man. Police found Long’s client to be 100 percent at fault because he was in the roadway. The man suffered a skull fracture, a hip fracture, and a torn meniscus. Although he recovered from his injuries and returned to his job, he struggled with cognitive issues and memory problems. The defense offered Long’s client $100,000, which was the policy amount. The demand was $875,000, and the case went to trial.
Focus Group and Jury Trial
Long decided to do a focus group, based on the Reptile method, to determine how much damage his client’s responsibility would have on the case. The focus group members placed some fault on Long’s client, but also recognized that the defendant was not paying attention and that she had an obligation to have been attentive. During the trial, Long used what he’d learned from the focus group and was surprised to see how jurors thoughts were very similar to that of focus group members.
Long focused on the drivers’ responsibilities and duty of care. He reminded the jury that they will make decisions that affect people’s lives and issues that concern the community. He pointed out how his client was at fault for having been out on the roadway, but also that he was out there helping a neighbor who was in need and vulnerable. Long also pointed out that his client did return to work, but he did so in order to survive. He had to fight physically and mentally to get his job done every single day. Long wrapped his closing by asking the jury: “Will you preserve the standard of safety that you desire for your community, or will you give the Defendant a pass?”
A Favorable Verdict
The jury returned with a verdict for $3 million, placing 65 percent fault on the defendant and 35 percent on the plaintiff. Long said this case taught him the value of focus groups in that they helped him see the pitfalls in this case. By making the case about community safety and the defendant’s failure to accept responsibility, Long turned a difficult liability case into a major victory for his client.
The Keenan Law Firm shone the spotlight on Long’s success and featured him as the subject of their Super Star Spotlight blog, which gets emailed to thousands of lawyers nationwide who utilize Reptile as a tool. We offer our hearty congratulations to one of our own, who has been successful not just because of his perseverance and determination, but because of his willingness to try new and creative approaches. He is truly an inspiration to all of us at Bisnar Chase.
Bisnar Chase is a nationally renowned personal injury and product liability law firm, which represents severely injured clients, their families, and other affected individuals in product defect cases, mass torts and class actions. We are passionate in the pursuit of justice for our clients. Our firm has been featured on a number of popular media outlets including Newsweek, Fox, NBC, and ABC and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for victims and their families.