Read the case and prepare to research how the judicial panel to conduct a trial and give proper instructions to the jury.
In the courtroom, the judges have to hear objections at trial and over rule or sustain them. The judge’s role is to ensure a smooth efficient and speedy trial without undue delay. The judges have to keep the attorneys in line and on track.
•Pre-Trial Conference:All attorneys and the judicial panel will be responsible for conducting a pre-trial conference, run by the judges, where workload is equitably divided between the plaintiff and defense teams. You must delegate the varied responsibilities amongst yourselves, such as writing potential juror questions, drafting witness examination questions and preparing for trial. It is your responsibility to allocate the workload in a fair and equitable manner and submit all documents to the relevant parties by the deadline. In the conference report, I want to know both sides’ position. Plaintiff has to be clear what their argument is and
Case:Johnson vs. Coldrock Tireand Rubber Company
In March 2006,when John Johnson, a mechanic employed byInfiniti of Parkland, attempted tomount a16 inch tire on a17 inch rim of anInfinitiG35 wheel, leaning andreaching overtheassembly whileinstalling it, the tireexploded, causinghim serious, permanent injuries. Mr.
Johnson lost three fingers ofhis right hand in theaccidentas well as thevision in his right
eye. In addition to his job at the dealership, Mr. Johnson was an aspiringreggae musician whothedayofthe accident had received a multi-million dollar record contract offerfrom TinseltownRecords. Mr. Johnson filed suit in Florida’s 17th Judicial Circuit Court against his employer,American Hawk Company– the manufacturerofthe wheel, Nissan MotorCompany– themanufactureroftheautomobile and designer ofthe wheeland Coldrock Tireand Rubber Company– the manufacturerofthetire.Mr. Johnson had 10years of experienceas a mechanicand had received three daysofon-site training from representatives of Coldrock.The dealership,wheel manufacturer andautomobile manufacturerall settled, leavingColdrockas theremaining defendant. Thesuit is scheduled for trial starting April 24, 2014.
At issuein the caseis thelabeling on thetire.Thetire had alabel, advising users neverto mounta 16-inch tire ona17-inch rim, warning ofthe dangerof severeinjuryordeath, and included adrawingofamechanic leaningoverthe tireto install it with a circle and redline drawn through it. Whetherthe label wassufficientlyconspicuous, oradequatelydepicted the resultingdanger or risk of injury, remainsan open issue. In depositions, Johnson admitted that he ignored thesewarnings at theurgingofhis employer and becauseit was common practiceto install smallertires on largerrims oftheInfiniti G35. Duringdiscovery, Johnson’s attorneysexplored whyColdrock did not usea safer”bead”design. Thebead is arubber encased steel wirewhichcircles the tireand holds it on to the rim. Each side has offered upexperts, with Johnson’spointingout that other manufacturers usedifferentand safer bead designs and Coldrock’sarguingthat the Coldrockdesignwas the safest intheindustry anda different designwould not have changed theoutcome. Amongthe witnessesdeposed byplaintiff’s counsel was RogerColdrock, CEOofthe company.
Plaintiff is beingrepresented by thelaw firm of Dewey, Cheatum&Howe,LLP, a specialist inproduct liabilitysuits. The defendant is beingrepresented bytheWall Street firm of Ben, Jarvis,Green&Ellis,LLP.Theassigned judgein thecaseis the Hon. Solomon Cardozo Holmes, arecentappointee bytheRepublicangovernor. Beforehis appointment, JudgeHolmes was inprivate practice with a largeFortLauderdale firm;his major client was General Motors.
You havebeen assigned to this trial. Actingas the judge.
Roles to choose from(one only):
Plaintiff:JohnJohnson (known to his friends as”Johnny”).Mr. Johnson will be called as awitness by plaintiff’scounsel and will be cross-examined bydefendant’s counsel.
Plaintiff’s Counsel: As a memberofthe plaintiff’slegal team,yourjob will beto preparefor andrepresentyour client at trial. First,youwill need to determine what legal theoriesyou arerelyingupon as the basis foryour lawsuit and develop what elements of thesetheoriesyou will havetoprove. You will need togatheryour physical evidence, developyourlist ofwitnesses and experts and prepare fortrial. At trial,you will first makeyouropeningstatement which outlines the elements ofyourcaseand the evidence thatyou will be presentingin support ofyourposition. You will then present your evidencebycalling and questioningwitnesses and expertswhich together will proveyour case.You will also havethe opportunityto cross examinethedefendant’s witnesses and redirectyour own witness testimonyaftercross examination by thedefendant’scounsel. Finally,you will concludewithyourclosingargument.
Defendant’s CEO:Roger “Cole”Coldrock, 87, alegend in the industry.His familystarted thebusiness after World WarII, first buyingsurplus rubber from theU.S. Armyand buildingthecompanyinto a leaderinthe business. Inrecentyears, Coldrock has moved much ofitsmanufacturingoverseas to Malaysia and Thailand,seekinglower laborcosts and easieraccess toraw materials.
Defendant’s Counsel: As a memberofthe defendant’s legal team,yourjobwill be to prepare forand representyourclient at trial. First,you will need to determinewhat legal theories plaintiffisrelyinguponas the basisforits lawsuit and present proof refutingthose elements or establishingyourown defenses (i.e.,what are the defenses toa product liabilitycase?).You will need togatheryour own physicalevidence, developyourlist of witnesses and experts and preparefortrial.At trial,you will makeyouropening statement which outlines yourposition (i.e., whytheplaintiff cannot provehistheoryand/or presentingyouraffirmativedefenses) and introducetheevidencethatyouwill be presentingin support ofyourposition. You will then cross examinethe plaintiff’s witnesses. Afterthe plaintiff’scounsel rests,you will presentyourevidence bycalling and questioning witnesses and experts which proveyourcase. You will also havetheopportunityto redirectyour own witness testimonyaftercross examination bythe plaintiff’scounsel.Finally, afterthe plaintiff’s counsel makes its closingargument,you will conclude withyourclosing argument.
Judge: Thejudgeis the “umpire”, hewill establish the ground rules ofthecase(i.e., thetimetobe allotted to each partyfor each part ofthecase),he will decidewhat evidenceis admissible(i.e., is the evidencerelevant? hearsay?), he willsettleanypoints oflaw argued duringthecaseand finallywill deliver instructions to thejury(i.e., deciding what factual issues thejurymustevaluate in reachingits legalconclusion).
Witnesses (Hint: Notall witnesses needbe called – thatis a decision forcounsel)
ï John “Johnny”Johnson
ï Roger “Cole”Coldrock
ï Mickey Wrenchwell –Amechanicand oneoftheplaintiff’s co-workers.
ï Sandra Somerville-Acustomer who witnessed the accident.
ï Dr. Stanley Goodspeed-A retiredFord MotorCompanymechanical engineer andanexpert in automobilestabilitycontrol systems whothe plaintiff has hiredas an expertwitness to testifyas to the inherent hazard in installinga smaller tireona larger rim.
ï Dr. Christina Hernandez-Aformer mechanicalengineer and formeremployeeofFirestone who thedefense has hiredas its expert witnesses.
Jury:Will listen to all the facts ofthe trial and deliberatein theconferenceroom off thecourtroom. Theywill reach adecision and reportback to thecourtroom.