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This weekend, television news is sure to be dominated by Hurricane Florence. Many of us will watch the all-too-familiar scenes of high waves hitting the coastline and reporters being blown about by powerful winds. It's almost routine from a TV-watching perspective. But one unusually persuasive graphic caught my attention this week. Did you happen to see the Weather Channel’s storm surge simulation? I think it’s brilliant, and it potentially offers some lessons for forward-thinking trial counsel. The simulation begins at the 55-second mark in the video below:

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Environmental Litigation and PowerPoint

Environmental law is something that I have found fascinating for decades. In fact, I was involved in environmental litigation even before I founded A2L more than 23 years ago. It was a topic I focused on during law school and during the summers when I worked for a major pharmaceutical company. Since then, A2L has been involved in more than 100 environmental and energy cases involving more than 10,000 cleanup sites. These cases have ranged in size from a few million at stake to over $20 billion at stake. All these cases have a few things in common. First, most clean air and clean water cases necessarily involve with complex scientific concepts. Often topics such as plume migration, organic chemistry, and the concept of parts per million must be explained to the jury, the ultimate factfinders, in an understandable way. For the last ten years, another thing has become ubiquitous in environmental and energy cases -- the extensive use of PowerPoint. Here are three examples of the use of PowerPoint to show how complex topics can be translated into easier-to-understand pictures. First, here is an example of PowerPoint (converted to video format for easy viewing) that shows how one can illustrate both historical contamination issues and modern soil sampling by combining PowerPoint, photography and some simple illustration. This presentation is typical of those presented by experts in groundwater contamination cases.   This next example is really a contract dispute with energy and environmental issues embedded in it. It is an example from one of the so-called Yucca Mountain cases. In this line of cases, because the government failed to build the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in Nevada, it is on the hook for ongoing damages for the costs of storing the waste, particularly spent nuclear fuel rods, at each nuclear power plant facility. Litigation occurs when the government and the plant operator cannot agree on the costs of this storage. This is an example of a PowerPoint that combines extensive technical illustration and PowerPoint to explain the hundreds of steps and the levels of complexity in removing the reactor pressure vessel and fuel rods from one facility. Hundreds of illustrations are loaded frame by frame into PowerPoint to create the feeling of an animation.

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We are delighted to announce the publication of a new free e-book, the Trial Lawyer’s Guide to Environmental, Toxic Tort, and Product Liability Litigation, 3rd Edition. It is a guide to all the issues and all the possibilities that can come up in environmental, toxic tort, and product liability litigation – whether related to PowerPoint, scientific expert witnesses, competing scientific theories, body language, or any of a myriad of questions that can come up in this complex field. This is the third edition of a book that we first released in 2011. We have dramatically expanded the scope and the depth of the book to add dozens of new and relevant articles, including articles on the importance of litigation graphics in toxic tort litigation and on demonstrative evidence in product liability and failure-to-warn cases. The book is now 256 pages long and packed with valuable articles. Environmental, toxic tort, and product liability cases have similar challenges. Each typically involves disputes over science and often results in a battle of expert witnesses. As a result, these cases are some of the hardest cases to litigate. These cases can include technical issues similar to patent cases, scientific elements similar to pharmaceutical cases, and damages issues similar to construction cases. In addition, for many jurors, these cases are fraught with political ramifications in a way that many other cases are not. Jurors often harbor a basic belief that if a big company is on trial, it has probably harmed people or the environment in pursuit of profits and has caused long-term damage to people and the planet – either by directly causing human health effects, polluting the air, water, or ground, or by contributing to global warming. It is important for a lawyer representing such a company to overcome jurors’ biases and to do so while keeping the case from seeming dull and boring. If you are to be successful litigating these cases, you have to be among the best in the profession. The natural complexity of these cases means that demonstrative evidence must be used extensively, jury consulting is often appropriate, and the use of trial technicians allows you to focus on maintaining your connection with the jury – rather than staying connected to the technology. This e-book will help you better prepare to litigate environmental, toxic tort, and product liability cases. From making the most of your mock trial, to managing trial team psychology, to specific demonstrative examples, there is something in here for all trial lawyers. I hope you enjoy this book and will take a moment to share some feedback by contacting me. If you ever have a question about how to prepare an environmental, toxic tort, or product liability case anywhere in the world, please ask. You may download the book by clicking this link or by clicking the download button below.

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by Tony Klapper Managing Director, Litigation Consulting A2L Consulting If anyone thought the era of toxic tort litigation was coming to an end, they were wrong. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its priority list of 10 chemicals, including asbestos, that it is considering banning under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Although it remains an open question how aggressive the Trump administration will be with safety regulations, the reality is that regulatory lists like this, and the inevitable studies that follow, often become a treasure trove of “support” for a plaintiffs’ bar eager to add scientific credibility to their legal claims. This presents challenges for defense lawyers – especially given the continued currency of quasi-scientific principles or principles that are fine for regulators to rely on, but have no place in today’s courtroom, such as the “precautionary principle.” This is most evident with the mantra of “no safe dose” that asbestos lawyers and some environmental groups trumpet as justifying liability for even the most meager and infrequent of chemical exposures. Of course, toxicology, epidemiology and other scientific disciplines have exposed the fallacy of principles like “no safe dose” (after all, Paracelsus teaches us that “dose makes the poison – more about this later). But the appeal of the seemingly aphoristic “no safe dose” is tough to counter in court when an effective advocate plays to a jury’s fears and is buttressed by governmental pronouncements that, albeit for different reasons, embrace the notion that there is some theoretical, modeled risk from exposure to virtually any chemical. So the task for the defense bar is how to convince juries to reject these and other fallacious concepts that serve as easy, digestible substitutes for the more complex elements of true causation.

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by Tony B. Klapper, Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & GC, A2L Consulting and David H. Schwartz, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Innovative Science Solutions 

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  by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury Consulting A2L Consulting You’re defending an alleged polluter. You ask prospective jurors, “Who here thinks there is too much government regulation of business?” You represent an individual hurt in a workplace accident. You ask, “Has anyone ever filed a worker’s compensation claim?” Your client is an employer accused of gender discrimination. You ask, “Please raise your hand if you believe that workers sometimes claim wrongful treatment when they simply don’t get what they want.” Why would you do that, if the only answers you can get to these questions are ones that reveal potential allies? That is your adversary’s job, not yours. Your job is to help your supporters fly under the radar so that they can remain on the jury. If your question is likely to reveal nothing useful to you -- or worse, will point out who your friends are -- don’t use that question.

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  by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Not every page, blog article, webinar or e-book on A2L Consulting's site is right for everyone. As the saying goes, what is everyone's favorite radio station? WII – FM, of course. Otherwise known as "what's in it for me?" With hundreds of articles, dozens of e-books and hundreds of other pages, A2L's website has over 2,500 pages of valuable content. Sometimes, finding materials that are specific to your litigation practice area or need can be a challenge with all the available options. You can search A2L's site or even browse by topic area using a topic list in the sidebar of every blog post. In spite of this, I still hear from a lot of people who wonder whether we have experience working in their specific practice area or where they can find useful information related to their practice. I wrote this article to highlight some very useful information organized by practice area below. I've broken down the practice areas into 14 topics that cover most of the work we do. The alphabetical list with links under each topic should prove helpful when looking for the information most relevant to you.

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