Tag Archives: pandemic

WARNING: Be Wary of Research About How the Pandemic Impacts Jury Decision-Making

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

It is the question on every litigator’s mind: What impact, if any, will the pandemic have on jury decision-making once trials resume? Will there be more goodwill towards businesses because of the economic toll the pandemic has taken? Will perceptions of a widening rich/poor gap perpetuate social inflation and nuclear verdicts? The questions go on and on and it is important to have answers to them. I expect that many organizations will purport to have those answers, but those answers might be misleading or flat-out wrong for one very important reason. Continue reading

The Important Connection between September 11, COVID-19, and Jury Decision-Making

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

As the country starts to re-open and jury trials resume, it is our job to research and understand what impact the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders that lasted over two months in some states will have on how jurors evaluate liability and damages going forward. There are many ways to approach this kind of research. For example, we just completed on of the largest surveys we have ever conducted in order to get specific answers to some of the questions we know attorneys and general counsel will have. We are currently in the process of analyzing all of that data.

It is also important to look back in history to other significant events for points of comparison. Everyone I talk to immediately draws comparisons to the 2008 recession, which makes a lot of sense given the economic parallels. When I have suggested looking at September 11, many brush off the suggestion, arguing that it is simply not comparable. However, delving behind assumptions, it becomes clear that there are some very important connections that are worth examination. Continue reading

How Does The COVID Pandemic Impact Mock Trials and Focus Groups?

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

We have officially entered the eighth week of the stay-at-home order in Washington State. Six days ago, our governor announced there would be no jury trials in the state until at least July. During this time, we have had at least a dozen cases across the country that were supposed to go to trial, but now await an uncertain future. In the next few months, we have another dozen cases that are supposed to go to trial, but those are uncertain, too, as courts will surely be dealing with enormous scheduling challenges. Fortunately, we have remained busy during this time while still benefiting from the opportunity to devote some time to reflect and explore new ways to approach our practice, not only out of concern for the COVID health issues, but also as part of our constant effort to improve the quality of our services. Among the many questions we have been asked, three, in particular, stand out. I will address each of these in this week’s blog. Continue reading