If your case involves a brain injury or the death of a human, you should be asking for seven figures, right off the bat… if not eight or nine.
I don’t care if you’re in a rural jurisdiction or not.
A brain is a brain, and a life is a life.
As long as your case has good facts and you’re arguing it well and doing ALL the things I want you to be doing, you can get your seven- or eight- or nine-figure verdict in ANY jurisdiction.
Now. Maybe you’re thinking:
But Sari, nobody’s ever asked for seven figures in this jurisdiction!
But nobody’s ever won eight figures in this jurisdiction.
My question to you is:
Has anyone ever fucking ASKED for those numbers?
Because, y’all, this is NOT a jurisdiction issue. It’s a mindset issue.
Tune in to today’s episode of the FHTH Podcast to find out what I mean.
EPISODE 222 TRANSCRIPTION
Well, welcome, everyone. Today we're talking about how to decide your number in rural jurisdictions. I just had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with some H2H crew members, and I knew one of them had gone to trial recently, but I'd never heard the result. And so, I asked, "What was the result in this case?" And they said, "Well, we won, but it wasn't what we wanted." And I said, "Well, a win is a win." And I said, "Well, how much did you ask for?" And the person said, "Something in the low six figures." And I said, "Well, wasn't that a brain injury case?" And they said, "Yeah." And I was like, "All right, we got a problem. That seems super low to me." And they said, "Well, it was in a rural jurisdiction." And that's when I went, "Ding, ding, ding. I'm so doing a podcast on this." Because y'all have an idea about what you can get depends on this jurisdiction that you're in, and I'm hoping to blow that out of the water today.
All right. So, here's the thing. I never give an answer when people say, "How much should I ask for?" And I'm not going to give you an answer today, but I'm going to say, this is the closest I've ever gotten, that if it involves the brain or if somebody died, we're at seven figures right off the bat. Right off the bat. We're talking about your brain and we're talking about your life. To me, those things, minimum seven figures, if not eight or nine figures, right? And we've had all of those for all of the things I had just mentioned, in the crew. We've had all of those results. So, I know that they're possible and I know that your next question is going to be, "Yeah, but what jurisdiction?"
All right. All things being equal, meaning, your case has good facts and you are arguing it well and doing all the things, I believe that you can get that in any jurisdiction. You'll tell me, "Well, but we've never gotten it over here." Well, just because it's never been done, doesn't mean it can't be done. Has anybody ever asked for those numbers? That's what I would like to know. That's what I would like to know, because I see this over and over again where you're taking someone else's experience or the fact that it's never been done before, and you're saying, "Well, nobody's ever asked for seven figures in this jurisdiction." Or, "Someone's never won eight figures in that jurisdiction." So, you don't even try.
That is a huge problem, and it is a mindset issue. The end. What you are limited to is your mindset about it. It has nothing to do with the jurisdiction. It has nothing to do with what's ever been done there before or who you are or whatever. Again, all things being equal, meaning you've got a good case. Now, we know that we take our worst cases to trial, but there are some cases that should never, ever even go to trial. So, we're not talking about those cases. We're talking about a case that in one jurisdiction you would ask for eight figures and another one you'd ask for low six figures. That's what I'm talking about. Meaning, the case has merit. You're just changing the number depending on what jurisdiction you are in.
Now, here is why this is a problem. One, is it's unfair to your client. Either a brain is worth more than seven figures across the board, or it's not. Just because someone deemed get their brain injured in a rural county means their brain is worth less than somebody else's brain in an urban center, a more liberal leaning center, that's some bullshit right there. Brains are valuable no matter where you live, no matter who you are, no matter what's ever been done in this jurisdiction. It's unfair to your client to not ask for the right number, one.
Two, it's unfair to the people in that community. You're saying people in your community don't value things like other people do. You're looking down on them and that is an issue. That is not okay.
So, there are two reasons right there why asking a different amount depending on the jurisdiction is not the right thing to do. I don't think it's ethical, frankly, because your job... Not that I'm calling this person unethical. I love this person. I just know this is the mindset y'all are in. Your job is to get justice. Justice should not matter, isn't this what we argue? On who you are, how old you are, what the color of your skin is, what your sexual orientation is, and fucking where you live. That should not be a reason for whether or not you get justice. Come on now.
All right. So, what do we do instead? Well, we're going to talk about how you need to ask for the right number and how you need to believe in it. But here's what I think we're really afraid of, before we talk about how to do this, is we're afraid of offending the jury, right? That's the big thing, "I can't go in there and I can't offend the jury by this big number because they're going to think whatever."
All right, so let's unpack this for a minute. How do we actually offend juries? It is not by asking for too much, whatever that may be. In fact, asking too little is often the problem, because it's cognitive dissonance. If someone's brain is actually injured, if that is what you're coming into, let's just use TBI as an example, but you're asking for low six figures, what you are inadvertently communicating to the jury is, is that you're there for money.
Think through this, because if it really was injured, that really is true, then why the fuck are you asking for such a little amount of money? Do you see what I'm getting at here? It's like when I talk about how to price your services when I was working in corporations before. So, if you are looking to hire a graphic designer and you find two and one charges $50 an hour, and the other one charges $150 an hour, which one do you think is more trained, valuable, knows what they're doing, credible, all the things? It's the person who charges $150, even before you've seen their work.
Now, you could be wrong, but that is the perception our brain has. The more money something is, the more valuable it is. When you go in and you ask for low six figures on a brain injury case, or God forbid, a death case, the jurors, if they're not even thinking with the front part of their brain, but the reptilian part of the brain is, "They're just here for the money, because if they're not asking for a lot of money, then obviously this wasn't that egregious." See, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Here's how we actually offend jurors. We actually offend jurors by not going all in, by treating them as the enemy, by wasting their time, by not being authentic, by not believing in your case.
Here's what I don't think you understand, is how much power you actually have. You set the tone at trial. You get to tell jurors what this is worth, and not only that, how much you believe in it because when we come back to, what's the right number? The right number is the right number for what happened to this person. And that doesn't matter who the judge is, what jurisdiction you're in, what the opposing counsel, if they're good, the best they'd ever been, see because y'all play in the odds. That's what you're doing with justice. You're saying, "Well, some money is better than no money. If I overshoot and I ask for way too much, they might give me nothing, but if I shoot in the middle, then they might give me something or something close." And that's why you're getting these even lower verdicts than what you're getting, because that's not true, some money is not better than no money. That is partial justice and that is not okay.
All of our clients deserve to be treated the same in terms of the amount of justice that they should get. That shouldn't matter one bit what jurisdiction you are in. I mean, I'm just so fired up about this, because I know that at your core, you believe that, but you get scared when you start thinking about, "But I've heard that judge is really a stickler." Or, "I'd heard the opposing counsel's really, really good. But I've heard that's never happened in that jurisdiction." It hasn't happened in that jurisdiction because you haven't asked for it yet. You haven't gotten 100% behind your number and owned the fucking shit out of it.
When I think about, again, I've mentioned this many times, John Bailey who won the $120 million in Midland, Texas for a death case. How did he win that? Was there some super awesome secret that he was using? No. You can talk to him. Go watch the Facebook Live we did with him. He says the reason he got it is because he believed in it so strongly. In fact, he tried the entire case on flip charts. Flip charts. He didn't need the fancy PowerPoints. He didn't need the tons of lawyers in the black suits. He didn't need a lot of time. In fact, he'll tell you that he realized real early that the other side was going to outwork him, outspend him, all of the things. The only thing he had was his belief in his number and in his case, and he went in heart first, leading with his heart. That's what makes the difference.
It is being done. I'm going to go and read you something out of our Facebook group, our private Facebook group. So, I'm not going to use actual names when I'm reading this, but this was so incredible that just as I was reading this ... I may have already put this in a podcast, but I think it just makes so much sense here. So, bear with me as I read it to you.
So, someone else, talking about another H2H member, and this person says, "I watched fellow H2H member do his voir dire in a very conservative venue this week, so I could see it in action firsthand. We require, in our state, a unanimous 12 person jury. It was BRUTAL. Many jurors commented that to ask for a million dollars would be ridiculous since his clients looked fine. Another said, 'Sir, this is bleeped out County. It's a small town. I don't even know anyone with a million dollars.' These jurors got angrier and angrier at the idea of a million dollars, saying how embarrassing it would be for anyone to know that they were even on such a jury, how wrong it was for him to even suggest that when he works with people with spinal cord injuries..." This person, this juror works with people with spinal cord injuries." And this person's, H2H member's client doesn't even look hurt at all.
This person writes, "It was scary, real scary to watch all the fact dropping. H2H crew member seemed like a glutton for punishment, going forward full speed on the money issue, not backing down on it, not giving up. As it seemed to spiral into a frenzy, one juror finally saved him. He said, 'I think mental pain is worth more than a medical bill.' And with that one share, by that one juror, I watched as the alliance began to form. They began looking away from the people who were being rude to this H2H crew member. They began looking at each other and nodding their heads a lot, but even the better jurors nodded when people said they would want H2H crew member to put on a whole lot of proof. They spoke more than a jury has ever spoken, and most of it was bad. Like real, real blunt, worst things you can say, bad.
It did not feel good to watch and hear those thoughts, and H2H crew member did not feel good about it. But after it was over, I did not have the feeling that he would lose or that it went bad. Even though they literally were like,' Hey dude, you're going to lose here.' I know that felt awful, but what I told him was that I saw him form the group. They did not agree with awarding money for pain, but they liked this H2H crew member. Man, that was a tough jury. I told him, 'If this works here with these folks, then we will know that there is something to Sari de la Motte's method.'" Well, duh, there's something to my method. Joking.
"The people who planned to sink the verdict were revealed. Let's talk about the judge." This person continues, "When the jurors were first chosen in front of the selected jurors, the judge turned to the released jurors and said, 'As Churchill said, 'There's nothing greater than to be fired upon and missed.'' The H2H member's jury had heard the judge say that their service was like being fired at and shot with as a gun. Great start.
As the conversation of voir dire began, the judge must have called H2H crew member to the bench a half a dozen times saying, 'Are you going to ask a question?' H2H crew member stood his ground. He said, 'Judge, I am asking questions, but if I ask them whether they have a family member in law enforcement or what their hobbies are, I don't know what to do with that. What I care about is their ideas about money for pain, and this is how I find out, by talking to them.' So, he kept going and the jurors kept talking.
Clear for cause strikes were denied by this new judge. The judge rehabbed a juror who had vehemently sworn moments earlier with quite specific examples that, 'There was no way in hell they would be fair in a case where someone was asking for money for pain, and they shouldn't sue at all, God will provide.'
When the judge was told that this type of rehab is not allowed in this particular state, he would look at the defense attorney for each juror and say, 'I don't mean to step on your toes, but do you have some questions to ask this juror?' At this point, the jurors were already seated in the audience again, so he had to do his or her rehab for her. He left three on that any other judge would have let off. But what this did was this, H2H crew member at the end of voir dire told them he would try to get them off the jury and that the defense had to say so too like Sari teaches.
So, when this defense lawyer turned around one by one and tried to rehab, 'Juror, you can listen to the evidence, yada, yada, yada.' And Mrs. Juror was like, 'No, I don't think I can. I told you I cannot do it.' Then the defense lawyer kept cross-examining the juror until she tricked her into saying, 'Yes, I can be fair.' The juror was left on the panel, but to the rest of the jury, it seemed so fucking unfair.
I was sitting in the audience at this point since voir dire was supposed to be over. It was so bananas, I videoed it and have that. The defense lawyer was rolling her eyes at the jurors and being an asshole until they would agree. I'll share the video in private if anyone wants to see it. It looks like when you turn your head too soon when a jury gives you an answer. It was a really hard case in a bad venue. If you think I'm exaggerating, another lawyer who is not familiar with H2H thought it went so bad that they said, 'H2H crew member should dismiss the case before the first witness was sworn.' I would have agreed 1000% if I had not seen the group formed and learned this method. But watching it, it did not look awful knowing the group was formed. He had a high hill to climb and they made damn sure he knew it. But I told the H2H crew member, 'You tell jurors to trust the process, now you've got to trust the process.'"
So, this person continues to talk about how, "The person in the case had a prior worker's comp injury. They had no positive findings on radiology because of the nature of the facet injury. The other plaintiff had $60,000 in meds and four herniated cervical discs that showed on imaging, but not a lot of ongoing treatment. Both of them looked beautiful and perfectly healthy. Their hair was curled to perfection. No surgical recommendation.
I texted the H2H crew member, 'You fought, that's the win. It does not matter what the verdict comes back at.' This post is not about the verdict. Well, it wasn't going to be, but H2H crew member just got $1.4 million for one of the plaintiffs with no surgical recommendations and $380,000 on $16,000 in meds in a conservative jurisdiction. All I've got to say is, TRUST THE PROCESS."
Listen, if one of our H2H members can go through that shitty of a situation with a shitty judge and a shitty defense counsel and shitty-ass jurors, where you need unanimous, and get a seven figure verdict, so can you. Every client in any jurisdiction, no matter where they were injured, deserves full justice. Talk to you next week.
Simon says, "Stop working so damn hard." Simon says, "Book yourself a vacation." Simon says, "Listen to Sari." I am thrilled to once again invite y'all to join us in the H2H Playground. Come and be a part of the only online working group where plaintiff attorneys learn and practice proven trial skills in a safe place while having fun. Simon says, "Become the lawyer you were born to be." Visit sariswears.com/play, and join the waitlist. Ready, set, go. Wait, I didn't say, "Simon says." Just checking to see if you're paying attention. But for real, go to sariswears.com/play now.
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