Litigation Support: Magna involved in the Trinity $525 million whistleblower damages award
Magna Legal Services, one of the largest jury research, litigation graphics and court reporting companies in the United States, recently played a pivotal role in the $525 million award – after mandatory trebling of a $175 million jury verdict – for its law firm client Boies, Schiller & Flexner which represented the plaintiff Josh Harman. Trinity Industries, the highway guardrail maker, was accused of selling systems that can malfunction during crashes and slice through cars. The award is the highest in the US history of whistleblower cases in which the federal government declined to join forces with the whistleblower. Mandatory statutory penalties of as much as $185 million, prejudgment interest and attorneys’ fees are all expected to be added to the $525 million award before the court enters a judgment of approximately $1 billion against Trinity.
The case was brought under the False Claims Act by Harman, who discovered that the company made changes in 2005 to its railhead without telling the Federal Highway Administration. The company sold its guardrails to state governments that in turn received federal reimbursement. Trinity was found by a jury earlier in October to have defrauded the federal government. Magna Legal Services provided its patent-pending revolutionary online jury research focus group product, JuryConfirm, along with graphics consulting and design for the trial, and handled the trial presentation for Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
“As in many of our most significant cases, Magna was there for us every step of the way,” said Nicholas Gravante Jr of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the lead partner on the case. “The personal service and dedication that Bob Ackerman, Rosalie Margolis and their incredible team did by providing graphics design, jury research and trial presentation was instrumental to our success in presenting this case to the jury, which took less than three hours to deliver the record-setting verdict achieved by our team.”
The use of mock trials and compelling visual graphics at trial is increasingly important, especially when conveying complex information for jurors. Scientific research supports the concept that pairing the spoken word with strong visuals allows the presenter to make an effective and lasting argument. Evidence is the key to any trial, and making that evidence clear and concise is the key to having jurors learn and retain the information being presented. The employment of focus groups before the trial provides insight into the minds of prospective jurors and what is needed to better enable the actual panel to understand your case.
“The combination of what is learned from jury focus groups and implementation of that knowledge by our strong graphic design team continues to provide value to litigators with clear, concise information about the best demonstratives to make trial presentations more direct and vivid to juries,” noted Mark Calzaretta, Magna Legal Services partner.