Welcome to Reference From Coast to Coast: Sources and Strategies, a monthly column written by Jan Bissett and Margi Heinen.
Jan Bissett is a Reference Librarian in the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan office of Dickinson Wright PLLC. She is a past president of the Michigan Association of Law Libraries and has published articles on administrative and research related topics in the Michigan Association of Law Libraries Newsletter and Michigan Defense Quarterly. She and Margi Heinen team teach Legal Information Sources and Services for Wayne State University’s Library and Information Science Program in Detroit, Michigan.
Margi Heinen is the Librarian at Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss in Detroit, Michigan. She teaches Legal Resources at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and is team teaching with her co-columnist, Jan Bissett, at Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science. She regularly does Internet training of legal staff at her firm and recently collaborated with Kathleen Gamache on an I.P.E. presentation, Internet Strategies for the Paralegal in Michigan. She is active in the Law Librarians of Metro Detroit and is a member of the American Association of Law Libraries.
Jury verdicts/settlement resources provide invaluable information to tort litigators, plaintiff or defense as well as others trying to determine damages amounts. These resources, used for case valuation, settlement negotiation and to identify or locate expert witnesses, are available in print and electronically via Lexis®, Westlaw® and the worldwide web. Almost all verdict/settlement resources rely on practitioners’ submissions of information. Search strategies may differ depending on what you’re trying to determine or identify as well as how much you may be willing to invest, in time and money. Our focus is on the use of these materials for case valuation and settlement purposes.
Jurisdiction is at the heart of verdict/settlement research. The closer you can get to numbers from your particular venue the better off you are. In Michigan, we have a number of sources to consult when researching jury verdicts. The Michigan Trial Reporter and Michigan Lawyers Weekly Trials & Settlements as well as a local bar associations’ verdict summaries help us locate valuation information in specific counties, courts, by injury, attorney or award amount. A search in Google for your state name and “jury verdict” may yield specific reports for you.
In addition to state specific resources there are several national publications from Jury Verdict Research and LRP Publications covering specific practice areas, the National Law Journal’s annual verdict review and several case valuation titles such as What’s It Worth? A Guide to Personal Injury Awards and Settlements (Michie/Lexis Law). Tracking down titles via catalogs may be elusive. A title search on OCLC’s FirstSearch using “jury verdicts” yielded more records (116) than a subject search verdicts-United States-States (4). Keep that alternate strategy in mind when you search local catalogs.
Lexis®’s VERDCT library includes ATLA, Shepard’s Verdicts, Settlements and Tactics, Jury Verdict Research publications, and the National Law Journal Annual Verdict Review. Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and the D.C. are represented in the alphabetical listing of individual sources. Coverage varies by file. Westlaw®’s jury verdict resources include: ATLA, Shepard’s Verdicts, Settlements and Tactics, Jury Verdict and Settlement Summaries (LRP), Jury Verdicts Northwest, Employment Law and Personal Injury Jury Verdicts and Settlement Summaries as well as California and Florida jury verdict publications. Coverage varies by database; database identifiers can be found in the Litigation practice area materials listing.
Jury verdict resources on the web vary in coverage. Verdicts information may be available at the site or by ordering from the site for a fee. To retrieve free full text descriptions of nationwide verdicts and settlements, try Morelaw.com: Online Jury Verdicts, Experts & More. You can do a keyword search at Morelaw, but be sure to choose a jurisdiction first. The National Law Journal’s verdicts have migrated from http://www.ljx.com to Law.com. Current information appears to be available, archived stories require a subscription to access. Price’s List of Lists provides links to the National Law Journal’s “Biggest Jury Verdicts” and Lawyers Weekly “Top 10 Verdicts”.
Fee based sites with full text retrieval include Lawyer’s Weekly publications’ covering national and selected states’ verdicts or Blue Sheet Online Jury Verdict Research reporting cases from Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Many jury verdict publishers offer fee based search services or product information as well as articles of some current interest – Jury Verdict Review and Analysis, Moran Verdict Search, Texas Reporter®-Soele’s Trial Report™ and Trials Digest®: The Comprehensive Source for California Civil Trial Results.
Additional information may be found using various search engines or by checking the local bar association or law firm’s web site. To locate either, try Findlaw and access the appropriate category listing. In some instances the data is not reported on a case by case basis, but is available as a report of verdict amounts over a specified time period. This type of statistical information or analysis may be found in news articles, law reviews, and treatises. The Bureau of Justice Statistics offers several publications on civil jury trial statistics as well as civil rights complaints in U.S. District Courts. The Institute for Civil Justice (Rand Institute) publishes “research briefs”/studies on civil justice system policy issues including jury verdicts.
Several of our colleagues have created helpful pathfinders for jury verdict research in specific locales:
- Los Angeles County Law Library’s “Jury Verdicts & Settlements”
- University of Denver’s Westminster Law Library Guide “Jury Verdicts and Settlements”
- Maryland State Law Library’s Resource Guide – Jury Award Verdict
- New England School of Law Pathfinder: Researching Jury Verdicts
- University of Minnesota’s Researching Jury Verdicts & Awards
- Albany Law School’s “Where to Find Jury Verdicts in Tort Cases: Some Sources”
- Jenkins Law Library’s “Verdict and Settlement Research on the Internet: There’s Room for Growth”
- Zimmerman’s Research Guide – Verdicts.
In the fluid world of the Web, jury verdict resources are likely to multiply rapidly over the next few years.