Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Darngood v. Landers and PUDS

I took a few days off recently to donate my time as a mock juror for William Mitchell College of Law. Both days I sat as a juror on the same case, Darngood v. Landers and PUDs. The basic plot: female CEO from what looks like a fictional Best Buy if Best Buy was owned by a single family is run over during the Holidazzle Christmas parade by a fictional UPS man who just left the company Christmas party which had an open bar and is still on the clock because he has one final delivery. Ms. Darngood is hit in the crosswalk by Mr. Landers. She claims it said walk. He claims he entered and it switched to yellow and he was being careful. In this case, the facts were presented by real lawyers, not students. It was fascinating. Particularly to sit in on the same case two days in a row. At no point on the second day did anyone mention that if the light truly changed colors after he entered the intersection AND if the walk sign was on, he was doing less than 8 miles per hour. On the second day, Ms. Darngood's lawyer showed us exactly how far into the intersection she was, all by herself. It was a very long ways. Not what she was really trying to demonstrate, methinks. And the defense on the second day was more aggressive and got Ms. Darngood to state on the stand, "the driver is always at fault." Which clearly is not what the law states. Neither day did Ms. Darngood's lawyers stress that Mr. Landers weighed 140# and that the difference between "2 or 3 drinks" was .6 and .9 BAC. And that if he had tested at .6, an hour and a half after the accident, he was probably a.) close to .8 at the time of the accident, and b.) well over legal limit when he left the party and clearly over 3 drinks. Neither day did they show us the company policies about drinking and delivering. Although I heard from another juror that these did exist. The results were even better. My first day, we gave Ms. Darngood $200,000. The primary argument, it was a problem between corporations and it was appropriate to give her one year's salary so the company could deal with finding a new CEO. The second day, we gave her $0. She was clearly in the intersection alone, 6' out, and literally sprinting while he was being careful, and the cops didn't do due diligence by giving him a breathalyzer right away, but only a field sobriety test which he passed. However, my coworker Ron's jury gave her $5 million for physical and mental damages, and my wife's jury gave her $22.5 million for similar reasons. Ron was disgusted because the jury was pretty sure she was the majority of the problem, but felt she had been injured and needed compensation. My first day, I had a juror who was almost yelling about how Ms. Darngood was a Type A personality, and they were almost always at fault, and she knew what they were like, and that was the problem. Nice use of evidence, lady. Although on the first day, the lawyers also asked the jury questions about their own accidents, but didn't ask me whether I had relatives/immediate family who'd been in big accidents (I have). They didn't ask me many questions at all, which seemed to be sort of a reverse discrimination...businessy-looking white guy must be reasonable? All in all, very fun. And amusing to see two trials and compare notes with two others.

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