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The Litigation Consulting Report

6 Ways to Convey Size and Scale to a Jury

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 @ 09:30 AM


All good trial exhibits have one thing in common: They are able to appeal to juries by referring to ideas, principles, objects, or locations that jurors already know about in their daily lives.

For example, a trial lawyer may need to show how large, or how small, something at issue in the litigation actually is. An effective way of doing this is to relate it to the size or scope of an object with which a juror has personal experience.

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We have prepared many exhibits that work in this manner. Not only do they give the jurors useful information but they also do this in a manner that jurors will easily recall when it comes time to deliberate. If we can present something as being “as large as a football field,” for example, we can lock that picture into the jurors’ minds.

1)  HOW FAST: In the below graphic that we used in a medical malpractice case, evidence showed that a radiologist rushed his work and missed cancer diagnoses. He read X-ray films three times as fast as an average radiologist. What did that mean? Jurors know that “speed kills,” and a very effective trial exhibit compared that speed to traveling three times the speed limit on a highway – 210 miles per hour instead of 70. That intrinsically seems reckless.


2)  HOW MUCH TIME:  In the graphic below, evidence proved that conspirators in a government contract dispute in New Orleans had spent 3,548 minutes on the phone. That number by itself would probably mean nothing to a jury. We translated that fact into a graphic that showed that in 3,548 minutes, someone could drive from New Orleans to Wasilla, Alaska (an election year reference). In that amount of time, a lot of conspiring could be accomplished.

how to show scale in demonstrative evidence 

3)  HOW LITTLE IMPACT:  In a securities case, we likened the plaintiff’s allegation that a single stock purchase affected the stock price of a company for 14 months to the notion that a single runner’s taking the lead in a marathon for eight minutes affected all 35,000 contestants in the three- to four-hour race. That defies common sense, and jurors could conclude that the allegation regarding the stock price also defied common sense.

showing scale in litigation graphics 

4)  HOW MANY:  In a Miami discovery dispute, we provided a graphic (below) of Pro Player Stadium (the then name of what is now the city’s Sun Life Stadium), with a seating capacity of 75,000. If that was the universe of all the documents at issue, the number that related to one client was a small portion of one section of the stadium, we showed.

Discovery dispute scale 

5)  HOW LITTLE:  In an environmental case, our exhibit (below) showed that the cleanup costs at issue, when compared with the company’s annual sales, were the proverbial “drop in a bucket.” That is far easier for a juror to remember than the numbers $20 million out of $4.4 billion.

Drop in the bucket BaldYarn! 

6)  HOW MUCH:  In this environmental insurance coverage litigation exhibit, the capacity of an underground tank farm is related to above ground pools.  It was a small amount of property and the capacity of the tanks was surprising when conveyed in this way.

UST Underground storage tank volume infographics

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jury demonstrative evidence 

Tags: Energy Litigation, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Juries, Animation, Science, Environmental Litigation, Securities Litigation, White Collar, Medical Malpractice, Nuclear Power Plants, Information Design

Learn About Nuclear Power Plants Through Litigation Graphics

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 @ 07:30 AM

The world is watching in shock as a nuclear drama unfolds in northeastern Japan.  In only a few days, most of us have somehow come to accept that there are degrees of a nuclear meltdown and that explosions at a nuclear power plant may not always point to a cataclysmic outcome.  A week ago, those beliefs would have been unthinkable.  Then, nuclear power was a binary condition: it was either safe, clean and efficient, or it was Chernobyl, with no in between.

Even in the safest of times, generating power through nuclear energy presents major challenges.  One of the key challenges is handling the inevitable nuclear waste, primarily spent nuclear fuel.  After conducting extensive studies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. Government thought it had found an answer.  In 1983, the U.S. Government contracted with operators of nuclear power plants to begin picking up nuclear waste starting in 1998 and storing it in a central facility.

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The U.S. Government had then agreed to become the primary shipping and storage mechanism for the nuclear power industry.  The plan was to store nuclear waste at the now defunct Yucca Mountain storage facility located about 100 miles from Las Vegas.  Ultimately, fears of geologic instability at the site combined with election-year politics doomed the project.  So, instead of one underground facility located on the site where 904 atomic bomb tests have already been conducted, America is left with more than 100 storage sites around the country where nuclear waste is stored in pools or barrels.

When the U.S. Government breached their agreement to pick up the nuclear waste, operators of nuclear power plants sued.  In this line of cases, the question is not whether a breach has occurred, but rather how much it will cost the facility to store the waste if that is even possible.  Animators at Law has been involved in quite a number of these spent fuel cases typically heard in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  Below are some litigation graphics from these cases.

The animation below shows the removal of a reactor pressure vessel.  When a plant must be closed due to age or due to an inability to store more waste, the reactor pressure vessel may be removed.  The boiling water reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant use a similar reactor pressure vessel.  Originally created in PowerPoint using dozens of technical illustrations played in succession, this litigation animation shows two methods of removing the reactor pressure vessel that contains the plant's nuclear core.

The trial exhibits below are shown as a screen capture of some PowerPoint litigation graphics.  These trial exhibits analogize the problem an automobile service station would have if its used oil collection stopped to the spent nuclear fuel storage problem faced by nuclear power plant operators.  Further, it helps make the case that costs do not stop with storage (as the U.S. Government contends) but also include indirect and overhead costs related to storage (e.g. security, accounting and management).

Animators at Law has helped its clients recover hundreds of millions of dollars in spent nuclear fuel litigation cases, and effective litigation graphics have been key to this success.

For more on how nuclear power works:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Power

To learn more about the crisis in Japan or to make a donation:  http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Trial Consulting, Animation, Environmental Litigation, PowerPoint, Nuclear Power Plants, Information Design

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Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.


Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@a2lc.com.

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Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D., Managing Director, Trial & Jury Consulting, has conducted over 400 mock trials in more than 1,000 litigation engagements over the past 20 years. Dr. Kuslansky's goal is to provide the highest level of personalized client service possible whether one's need involves a mock trial, witness preparation, jury selection or a mock exercise not involving a jury. Dr. Kuslansky can be reached at kuslansky@A2LC.com.

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