Gregory G. Brown’s Trial Closing Argument Featured in Magazine – The Attorney Did What?
The Attorney Did What?
First of all, I am not a defense lawyer by trade. I used to be an insurance defense lawyer, but not now. I’ ve seen the light! Unless, of course, one of my business clients is sued. As a business litigator, I can easily be on either side of counsel table. Of course, I also handle PLAINTIFF personal injury cases, so not to worry!
We start day one of a jury trial on a fraud, breach of contract, and breach of warranty case. The parties included a manufacturer of private label bottled water and one of their customers , a distributor. The distributor claimed that the bottled water manufactured was tainted, possibly with e-coli, and that they had lost millions of dollars in sales as a result.
Once we get through pre-trial, the other side produces for the first time, a sealed case of bottled water as evidence. This was a surprise. The buyers claimed they “had just found” this particular case of water. How convenient. The water bottles in the case had what could only be described as floating film that looked like snot.
The suggestion was that these particular bottles were evidence of many shipments of the tainted water. This, of course, was quite a surprise, since no other evidence like this had been produced throughout the case. The trial proceeds and the other side understandably and regularly refers to and points to the “smoking gun case of water.” Witnesses and experts testify as to the manufacturing process, UV filtering, micron filters, etc. Of course, the other side used this newly produced case of bottled water as their central piece of evidence. And, since it was produced at trial, we were unable to do any testing of the cloudy and gross bottled water. We did try try exclude the evidence, but were unsuccessful. However, we had been able to test a few random bottles produced during the litigation, which our experts concluded showed no harmful contents. Those samples did not have gobs of cloudy, egg-white looking snot in them. The question became, how do we deal with this new evidence? Well, I decided that I had to wait until closing argument. As I stood up to deliver my summary of the case to the jury, I walked over to the case of bottled water that had been placed right next to the witness box. I coincidentally turned my back to plaintiff’s counse l as I proceeded to open up the case of water and grab one bottle to show the j urors. Rather than talk about the bottle, however, I proceeded to open it up.
Now at this point, the jurors probably thought that I was going to pour some into a container to talk about what was really inside. Instead, I proceeded to drink from this bottle. A few gasps came from the jurors. I then used this bottle as my drinking water throughout my entire closing argument. I paced myself so that I was drinking out of the bottle throughout the entire closing argument. Of course, once I started drinking it, there was not much the other side could do (or did do). Like some of my other war stories, I make no representation as to whether this was proper. It was just another one of those “spur of the moment” things we all do in trial. Regardless , the point was clear. Why would counsel drink a bottle of water allegedly tainted with e-coli? Fortunately, we won!
The next day, everyone in the courtroom anxiously awaited my arrival. Did he get sick? Did he go to the hospital? Had he been taken to the emergency room that night with e-coli poisoning? As luck would have it, I was 20 minutes late that day, which heightened the drama. When I walked through the courtroom doors, I felt that many of the jurors (as well as my client) were uncharacteristically relieved and happy to see me there.
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Gregory G. Brown is a Certified Trial Specialist that handles business litigation and other general civil litigation matters. Brown is a partner at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP, an Irvine, California business and family law trial firm. Brown is an award winning and highly rated trial attorney, having received the following honors:
- “AV Rated” by Martindale Hubbell
- The Highest “Superb 10.0/10.0 Rating” by AVVO
- Named to “Super Lawyers” Six Years in a Row
- “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by National Trial Lawyers
- Named “Leader in Law” by Forbes Magazine
- Named “Top Business Litigation Attorney in OC”
- “Attorney of the Year” by Rocket Lawyer
- “Trial Lawyer of the Year” finalist by OCTLA
- “Lead Counsel Rated” Attorney
- Member “Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum