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Just The Facts

What does it take to get a jury in a traditionally conservative area to award $49 million in a personal injury case? San Francisco lawyer Randall Scarlett just did it, for a 21-year-old client who suffered traumatic brain injury in a car accident.

Big plaintiffs' verdicts are often criticized as the product of runaway emotion, but Mr. Scarlett's explanation of his success in the newspapers is more practical than emotional. "What the money represents is the terrible price associated with this," he told the Silicon Valley Mercury News. "This is what it costs to rehabilitate an injury such as this." In, he is quoted as saying:

This jury got it. In closing, I indicated to the jury that one can lose a leg, one can lose an arm, and there's a prosthesis that medical scientists have come up with. There is no prosthetic device when one loses the ability to use one's brain, one's sense of self and one's ability to have cognition.

A winning party's press quote doesn't always reflect what really happened in court, and I don't see any juror interviews on this one. But whether this particular jury worked from emotion, logic, or both, the story is a reminder that the most powerful jury arguments are often just facts. You can rarely make jurors angry by yelling, or make them cry by crying. But the facts, well gathered and simply explained, can move them deeply.

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