Elges And Kearney Team To Reduce Excess Carrier’s Exposure On Record-Setting Cook County Verdict

January 15, 2015 / News

Clausen Miller’s Appellate Practice Group was recently retained by an excess carrier to do “damage control” after its insured was hit with what the Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter confirmed to be the largest jury verdict for a non-amputation hand injury in Illinois, exceeding the previous record verdict of $4.2 million. The plaintiff, a union carpenter, was represented by one of Chicago’s “top gun” plaintiff attorneys. Clausen partner Kimbley A. Kearney took up the challenge and discovered the case had been tried without a court reporter-reducing the chances of overturning or reducing the verdict from slim to virtually none. Kim supported a post-trial motion with a bystander’s report from the trial counsel. Even though the insured’s trial counsel did not file a motion in limine on the issue, or object to plaintiff’s closing argument, Kim persuaded the court to entertain an argument that the verdict was the product of plaintiff’s improper attempt to “anchor” the jury high with exorbitant suggestions of non-economic loss. That turned the tide and provided leverage for partner Rodd E. Elges of Clausen’s Liability Defense Practice Group to capitalize on his good working relationship with plaintiff’s counsel to negotiate settlement for a significant reduction off the award.

This case highlights the need to be pro-active when facing a jury trial in high exposure cases to make sure that the record is protected with strong motions in limine, jury instructions, trial objections and a transcript so that a verdict can be challenged post-trial. Clausen Miller’s Appellate Practice Group is expert at assisting trial counsel in preserving arguments for appeal before and during trial. Many clients have benefitted from the Group’s brief arguing that plaintiffs’ practice of suggesting the proper amount for non-economic damage awards should be disallowed. The argument was originally crafted by Practice Group Co-Chair, Ed Kay.

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