As we highlighted last week, ensuring a jury understands a suit’s narrative is one of the key goals of a trial’s opening statement and is a critical component to building a winning case. However, when the events and relationships underlying a suit are particularly complex, as is often the case with lawsuits against insurers, breaking down the narrative into a clear, cogent storyline can be difficult. In openings of Meyer v. Health Plan of Nevada, Robert Eglet, representing plaintiffs in a suit against their HMO, combines a descriptive timeline and eye-popping details in illustrate his claim that the HMO was responsible for the insureds contracting hepatitis C.
Eglet spends much of his opening statement walking the jury through a sophisticated time line, weaving the stories of both the illegal cost-cutting measures of the clinic that he claimed infected patients with hepatitis C and that clinic’s relationship with the plaintiffs' HMO, Health Plan of Nevada, which referred them to that clinic. The events underlying the suit extend across years and involve multiple parties, but Eglet’s opening statement, assisted by a bullet pointed timeline, introduces jurors to the complex interrelationships integral to the case. Eglet then wraps up his opening statement by contrasting an HMO's duty to its clients with the clinic’s practices that that he says infected plaintiffs.
Theories of liability in cases like Meyer can be difficult to clearly communicate to a jury. However, Eglet’s opening statement effectively set the framework for a $524 million verdict for his client.
Jury selection begins in a similar case, Bernard Paul v. Health Plan of Nevada, Inc., et al., with trial expected to begin in early November. Watch the case live and on-demand on CVN.