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2003's largest verdicts

The Associated Press uncritically reports Lawyers Weekly USA's claim that the top ten jury verdicts of 2003 were supposedly "unusually" small, with the biggest "only" $254 million (Dec. 15). ("Juries Hand Out Fewer Big-Ticket Verdicts", Jan. 2). Which is funny, because the same publication names Stephen Tillery (Jun. 12) a "lawyer of the year" for winning a substantially larger award in judicial hellhole Madison County (Mar. 24). (Jaclyn Jaeger, "Landmark $10.1B Light Cigarette Award A 'Career Event' For Veteran Litigator", Lawyers Weekly USA, 2003). Of course, that was a judge who made that decision (Apr. 30), but the publication seems to have also missed November's $11.9 billion Alabama jury award (Dec. 1).

Update, April 6, 2004: A Lawyers Weekly USA writer writes to tell me that there is no inconsistency, because the "Top Ten" list was limited to "individual" awards. Which is fair enough, but that only accentuates the main point that the publication--and the Associated Press--has no basis to claim that 2003 featured fewer "big-ticket" awards in a year where multi-billion dollar awards were shockingly commonplace. For what it's worth, the #1 "individual" award on the list involved more than one plaintiff.

Speaking of year-end awards, if I may toot my own horn, my firm, O'Melveny & Myers, received the "Litigation Department of the Year" award from American Lawyer magazine. (Jim Schroeder, "O'Melveny & Myers Lawyers Named as Top Litigators", Dec. 31).

[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Jan. 2, 2004]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.