|VIDEO| Shane Read on How Thomas Klein Undercut Crash-Related Animation to Help Clear Nissan in an Airbag Trial

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Jun 21, 2024 2:46:19 PM

Because demonstratives can be such a powerful aid to a case in openings, effectively undercutting an opposing party's demonstratives can be critical in persuasively introducing your own case. And in the latest episode of CVN’s Trial Technique Spotlight, Shane Read, one of the country’s leading trial consultants, discusses how Thomas Klein blunted plaintiffs' crash-related animation to help clear Nissan in an auto airbag trial.

Shanel and Nicole Salinas sued Nissan and a drunk driver that collided with them in 2014. They claimed a defectively designed airbag in the Nissan Altima in which they were traveling caused Shanel to suffer a severe traumatic brain injury. Nissan, for its part, claims the airbag was properly designed. 

During openings of the trial, plaintiffs’ counsel showed a computer animation of the crash-related impact. But in his opening, Nissan’s attorney, Klein, of Klein Thomas Lee & Fresard, drew a stark contrast between that animation and the computer simulation of the impact he offered in support of Nissan’s claim. 

Klein told jurors Nissan's simulation was built off of mathematical formulas to model the forces involved in the impact. “Then there’s an animation, which is to be blunt, a cartoon,” Klein said. “It’s to illustrate things. As the court said, it’s not evidence.”

Klein took the cartoon analogy even farther. “You’ve seen Bugs Bunny cartoons, right?” Klein asked before telling jurors how in those cartoons, the famous rabbit could pull an emergency brake to stop a plummeting rocket in mid-air, just before it strikes the ground. 

“It’s really funny.” Klein told jurors, “and physically impossible.”

In this episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, Read says that Klein's distinction between an "animation" and a "simulation" served as a clear counterpunch to a key piece of plaintiff's opening. 

“What Thomas Klein did very well was explain, in terms anyone could understand, the difference between a simulation and an animation,” Read says. 

And Read adds that the comparison to an over-the-top Bug Bunny show was a vivid way to undercut the animation’s power. 

That, Read says, “went right to the heart of what he was trying to tell the jury.”

Moreover, the analogy worked so well because of Klein’s conversational delivery. 

Klein, Read says, had a “great style, conversational, very folksy talking to the jury. I mean, he’s having a real heart-to-heart connection with them.”

That opening moment helped set the stage for a Nissan win, with jurors ultimately clearing Nissan of any responsibility for the crash, wile apportioning all the fault to the drunk driver and awarding $21 million in the case. 

Read’s analysis is the latest in CVN’s ongoing series, Trial Technique Spotlight, with Shane Read. Read is a nationally recognized trial consultant and award-winning author who has helped thousands of lawyers transform their deposition, trial, and oral advocacy skills through in-house training programs, one-on-one coaching, and keynote speeches. And in each episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, he uses CVN’s courtroom video to detail the techniques the nation’s top attorneys use, and how to best use them in your own cases. You can learn more about Shane and sign up for his newsletter at

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Topics: Trial Technique Spotlight