Improper PowerPoint Presentation Leads to a $300,000 Verdict Being Thrown Out

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The Appellate Division just lately vacated a $300,000 jury award in a private damage lawsuit because of plaintiff’s counsel’s improper use of a PowerPoint presentation throughout his closing argument. On this matter, Anthony Romano filed a lawsuit in opposition to Michael Stubbs in reference to an altercation which occurred within the Bergen County Courthouse on February 23, 2006.

On that date, Stubbs was in court docket for a listening to in reference to a home violence criticism filed by his spouse and a willpower as as to whether a short lived restraining order needs to be made everlasting. Whereas in court docket, an officer approached Stubbs and informed him {that a} warrant had been issued for his arrest because of his alleged violation earlier within the day of the momentary restraining order. Romano, who was an officer within the courtroom, assisted in arresting Romano after he resisted arrest. Throughout the altercation, Stubbs fell on prime of Romano forcing Stubb’s elbow into the bottom. Stubbs in the end pled responsible to a petty disorderly individuals offense for this altercation.

Romano alleged that on account of this incident he sustained an damage to the ulnar nerve in his elbow which required surgical procedure. Moreover, Romano claimed that he injured his neck warranting a spinal fusion. Romano in flip filed a negligence lawsuit in opposition to Stubbs.

At challenge on this case was plaintiff’s counsel’s use of a PowerPoint presentation throughout his closing argument. Throughout the recess between protection counsel’s closing argument and the beginning of plaintiff’s counsel’s closing argument, it was disclosed for the primary time that plaintiff supposed to make use of a PowerPoint presentation throughout closing. Protection counsel objected to plaintiff’s counsel using the PowerPoint presentation at that time. The trial decide permitted using the PowerPoint presentation discovering that plaintiff’s counsel wouldn’t be projecting something he wouldn’t say in his argument.

Throughout his closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel utilized the PowerPoint presentation to assist his argument that Stubbs choice to proceed to trial mirrored a nasty character and his refusal to simply accept accountability for the occurring of the incident. Moreover, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Stubbs and his lawyer have been performing in live performance guilty Romano. Additionally, in the course of the presentation, plaintiff’s counsel projected phrases indicating that Stubbs was a prison, had a propensity for violence and that the jury wanted to “ship a message.” Finally, the jury returned a verdict of $300,000 to compensate Romano for his accidents.

In reviewing this matter, the Appellate Division famous that typically closing arguments based mostly on the proof are permissible, however arguments that “shift the jury’s focus from a good analysis of the proof to pursue as a substitute a course designed to inflame a jury, by interesting repeatedly to inappropriate and irrelevant concerns are usually not.” The Courtroom acknowledged that whereas “counsel has broad latitude to passionately advocate their shoppers’ circumstances in summation, there are some clear boundaries.”

Taken as a complete, the Courtroom discovered that plaintiff’s counsel had made improper arguments by way of using his PowerPoint presentation. The Courtroom discovered that arguing and projecting phrases that: (1) the jury wanted to ship a message; (2) Stubbs was a violent particular person; (3) Stubbs was a prison; (4) Stubbs choice to go to trial was proof of a nasty character; and (5) Stubbs and his counsel have been “working” guilty Romano, constituted improper arguments. As such, the Courtroom discovered that “the cumulative affect of a number of transgressions in plaintiff’s closing argument leaves us with no confidence within the equity of the damages awarded.”

Accordingly, the harm award was vacated and the matter was despatched again to the trial court docket for a retrial on damages.

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