Blackwell Burke founder and CEO, Jerry Blackwell, and Partner, Corey Gordon, teamed up with jury research firm, Litigation Insights, and senior inhouse heads of litigation from General Mills, Conagra Brands, and Nestle in a first-of-its-kind innovative mock trial presentation and panel at the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association (GMA) 2019 Legal Conference in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Grain-Knee Crisps, the yummy, healthy fictitious snack used in the mock presentation to demonstrate how to mount an effective defense against a false advertising claim.
The topic, Connecting with Juries and Developing “Good Company” Stories, represented the first time the GMA has ever hosted a mock presentation. The fact pattern featured a fictitious product, Grain-Knee Crisps, and whether the defendant manufacturer exaggerated the “remarkable health benefits” of the product in supporting joint function.
Prominent plaintiffs’ lawyer, Michael Reese, presented a “clopening” argument, which teed up a spirited defense counter from Jerry Blackwell, who has a successful track record defending Fortune 500 companies against such claims in class actions, MDLs and high stakes litigation. The panel then discussed theme development and jury research.
Every successful defense starts with strategically Developing an effective jury friendly case theme.
“A critical component of a winning trial strategy is bringing a company to life in terms a jury can easily and clearly understand,” said Corey Gordon, who is often invited to teach complex issues related to defending company brands at the GMA Conference. “Juries appreciate understanding a company’s commitment to delivering safe and affordable products,” he said.
“In discussing what makes a good jury-friendly case theme – consider themes that are simple, short, memorable, and repeatable – much like a newspaper headline,” said Merrie Jo Pitera, CEO of Litigation Insights, which provides insightful jury research, jury selection, trial graphics and presentation technology services in high stakes litigation.
The GMA conference is the preeminent gathering for legal professionals in the food, beverage and consumer products industry. Top in-house counsel, defense attorneys and regulatory experts convene annually to explore a broad range of current legal issues, with a focus on strategies for improving compliance and mitigating risk.