The Litigation Psychology Podcast - Episode 161 - Humanizing the Corporate Defendant
Dr. Steve Wood discusses the topic of humanizing the corporate defendant. The data doesn’t support that making the argument to jurors that the corporation is made up of regular people who just go to work and try to do their best. Mock trials and actual trials have consistently demonstrated that jurors see through these arguments and don't buy into this. Jurors also discount arguments made about how the company supports other worthy causes, recognizing that those charitable contributions are tax write-offs and calling those actions out as insincere or tainted.
Based on all this, what can be done to humanize the corporate defendant?
1) Work with your corporate representatives by getting them involved early to ensure they are prepared for trick questions in deposition, present well at deposition and trial, and that their testimony and demeanor is credible;
2) Have a plan for communicating in a crisis. Work with an experienced crisis management and crisis response team to define the narrative of the incident and the company's response. A strategic and thoughtful crisis communication response can defend and even bolster the reputation of the company even before the possibility of litigation arises;
3) Get an idea of anti-corporate bias in jury selection by asking more insightful voir dire questions and digging deeper into juror attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and personalities to identify explicit or implicit biases;
4) Make a plan to address head-on the topic that plaintiff's counsel will bring up about your client valuing profits over safety;
5) During trial, be cognizant of how the corporate rep is behaving and the impression the corporate rep is giving the jury, even while they are just sitting at the defense table.
Humanizing the corporate defendant is possible, but it requires a deliberate approach and being aware of juror perceptions throughout the entire litigation process.
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