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Anatomy of a Civil Trial


add up to around $1 million for that job of being required to do a life that you don’t want to do. Some of you may think it’s worth more than that, but I suggest to you that that is the minimum. [We faced a statutory damages cap on intangible damages


of $650,000, so it was safe to ask for $1 million and not worry about leaving money on the table.] Now I want to talk about the other elements. Tere are things that he cannot do for himself, that other people can do. His wife can help him dress in the morning. She can cut his steak. His sons can plow the—what do you call it—the driveway and repave the gravel road once or twice a year. But we have a very interesting approach under the


Maryland law. I want to show you another thing that the Judge instructed you on. If you find from the evidence that because of the Plaintiff ’s injuries he needs certain services and assistance with his daily living activities, you should award an amount that is reasonable and necessary to pay for such services, without regard to whether he may receive some of the services for free from his family members. [Te law of “collateral source” lets you make a strong moral


argument touching on core shared values: equality, responsibility, and not being a freeloader.] Well, now, why is that? Te law, when someone has wrongfully


hurt you and put you in a position of where you need services, the law doesn’t let the Defendant take advantage of the fact that you might have family members who can do that for you. We’re all equal in an American court of law. If Bill Gates


needed somebody, because of an injury, to cut his food and help him get his shoes and socks on, he would be entitled to the reasonable cost of what that would be, the same as a single mother would be entitled to the same amount of reasonable costs. Te wrongdoer must pay for the harm he caused and is not allowed to take advantage of the resources that the victim has. [Now I shift from the moral argument for why the plaintiff should be paid for loss of services to the practical argument about the way it helps a wounded man save for the future and recover his pride.] And the wisdom of the law on this is that it also provides


a savings account, of sorts, for Mr. Wood, so that, God forbid, if something happens to his family members, he’ll have the money there to pay other people. And it also lets him be generous, so that getting part of his


pride back is something that you can do here when you pay for this, because you can give him the money so he can say to a friend of his, would you help me with my Christmas tree lights this year, and by the way I’ll pay you good money to do it, even though it’s going to take several days to put them up. He can do that now. Now, we had a calculation on what that would cost. And


it’s an average figure, four hours a day. But I think this is a better number that puts it in perspective: $21,900 a year. Tat’s four hours a day, at $15 an hour. You’ve got a huge array of services that this man was doing


for himself and for his family members that easily add up to that amount: changing the oil on all his cars; power-washing


46 Trial Reporter / Spring 2012


the house, the deck; grilling three times a week; snaking out the toilet. I mean, the list went on and on and on—and that’s a lot more than I do at my house—mulching, vegetable gardening, rototilling, all of the stuff that it takes two hands to do. Now, there were a few other items that you’ll see on the


verdict form, and let me just talk about those briefly. Tis item of help for daily activities, that’s a lot, $492,000. And you know what, we want every penny of it. He deserves it. [Why did I spend so much time arguing loss of services?


You can see the stark contrast between our figure and the defendant’s, but it also helps to know that Maryland has a damages cap on pain-and-suffering intangibles, so an element of damages like lost services, which is outside the cap because it can be quantified, becomes important to a fair verdict.] Tis other item here, this $36,000, what that has to do with is those things like this other paid expert for the defense that comes in and says, you know, I don’t do these therapies and I don’t even know how to use these assistive devices, but he needs these assistive devices, and he needs some marriage counseling and other counseling, and stuff like that. So we said fine, he should get whatever he should get, and that adds up to $36,000. [I enjoyed throwing in this $36,000, because it represented


extra care items that the defense life-care planner gave us that we didn’t otherwise have in our plan.] Now, their figure, just so you understand the difference, Mr.


Roling is going to show you a figure of $58,000 for this stuff here. Now, why would we want less on that than they say? Well,


the difference is that they say that this man and wife can take care of his entire house, year-round, for ten hours for the entire year, plus having a handyman come by five times a year to do weeding. Ten hours, for the entire year. You’d use that up with a couple of snowfalls doing your snowplowing. An absolutely ridiculous number. But we didn’t want to double count, so we took out those things, for the handyman and whatnot, and that’s why we have the lower number there. Now, you’ll also see, on the form here, you’ll see past medical


expenses, you’ll see the exhibits. Tat’s money out of their pocket. It adds up, if I did the math right, to a little under $33,000. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a huge part of the case, but it’s there. You’ve heard Mr. Wood say, tell us about the conversation


with Dr. Ducic and about doing this third surgery that might restore a little bit of sensation to the fingers. Tat’s $10,000. So we’ve got that down on future medical. So we’ve got past medical, $33,000; future medical, $10,000;


daily care needs, that’s $492,000, whatever you think it’s worth; future counseling, $36,000. [Te jury awarded all the plaintiff ’s requested sums, which


included the $36,000 piece of the defendant’s bare-bones care plan.]


And then you’ve got the big item, the loss of enjoyment of


life and all the things that go with that. And then you have what is called loss of consortium. Now, I want to just leave you with one or two thoughts.


Mike Wood has worked very hard to overcome the injury that Dr. Tzeng inflicted on him. He has been able to hire other guys to


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