By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm
A Persuasion Strategies/K&B National Research Survey
We are in an election season, and that is a good reminder of the fact that attitudes change. Maybe not fast enough to feed the 24-hour news cycle, but definitely fast enough to influence the litigation climate between cases. Products liability litigation in particular, is heavily influenced by jurors' preexisting attitudes on personal responsibility, their specific beliefs about safety, product labeling and testing, as well as the way they see the relationship between large corporations and individuals. These are all attitudes that vary by venue and over time. Not having your finger on the pulse of these shifting opinions can pose a danger to products litigants. While jurors are definitely committed to hearing the evidence and basing a decision on the particular case instead of their generalized attitude, the outlook they come in the door with will still determine your starting point in trial.
This post is the first of three focusing on our own original research. Persuasion Strategies worked with the recruiting and survey company K&B National Research to conduct a nationwide telephone study of 406 jury-eligible participants to measure attitudes on a number of topics relating to products liability defense litigation. In June, 2012, we asked participants about their views on product testing, labeling, and legal responsibility. We also asked survey participants to report their leanings on a number of brief litigation scenarios. Part II of the series will focus on a few emergent factors characterizing those jurors who pose the greatest risk to the product manufacturer or seller, and Part III will focus on the special role of anti-corporate bias in mediating the relationship between individuals and companies in products cases. Before getting into that, however, this first post provides an overview of the survey results, as well as the general takeaways for products defendants preparing messages for trial.