D'Lesli Davis, representing Takeda Chemical Industries in Allen Alsabagh's suit against the company and its diabetes drug, Actos, describes Takeda's work and tells jurors that Actos has more than 20 million patient-years of use
While it's always important for your jury to learn about your client during opening statements, it's absolutely critical when you represent a large corporation against an individual. Unless you humanize your corporate client, a jury will tend see the company you represent as a stereotypical, faceless entity with bottomless pockets, and they'll give the opposing party the benefit of the doubt throughout the trial. Painting the picture of your company’s face during opening statements goes a long way toward minimizing a juror’s inherent bias in favor of the human party they see sitting in the courtroom each day. D’Lesli Davis, defending Takeda Chemical Industries in a suit against the company and its Actos diabetes medication, helped neutralize that inherent juror bias by using her opening statement to introduce Takeda as a group of people working for the public good. Allen Alsabagh v. Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd.
Davis’s opening statement begins with a reference to the employees that make up Takeda. Davis points out Stacey Callahan, a Takeda corporate attorney. She apologizes to jurors because Callahan will miss some of the trial to fly back to her hometown of Chicago and care for her daughter.
“Takeda’s just people,” Davis says. “People like Stacey. Takeda’s people are also doctors, and nurses, and regulatory folks. And they’re people that have devoted their lives to trying to help us when we need help the most…. They’re people from all different backgrounds that live in the heartland of this country, and literally travel the globe in pursuit of the science of saving lives,” Davis explains, painting the picture of Takeda as a group of all-American, globetrotting medical heroes rather than an international pharmaceutical business.
Davis's portrait of Takeda is also sprinkled with little touches that support the picture of Takeda as just "folks." For example, she doesn’t refer to Takeda with the pronoun "it." In Davis's narrative, the company is “they;” again, a group of people, not a faceless entity. Those little references, made consistently throughout trial, can be important in reinforcing the picture you're trying to paint.
Davis paints her picture while she describes Takeda's drug Actos, whose purpose, she explains, is to keep diabetics healthy and off of insulin. She contrasts that worthy purpose, and Takeda’s goals of helping people, with what she describes as questionable choices plaintiff Allen Alsabagh made in ordering diabetes medicine from a potentially unregulated supplier on the Internet. It’s an opening statement that paints a portrait of Takeda for the jury to see, and it ultimately helped Davis win a verdict for her "folks."