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Industry Insights

Snyder: A True Fairy Tale About Causation

  • National

Once upon a time, there was a really big product liability case. Actually, a whole bunch of product liability cases.

Teddy Snyder

Teddy Snyder

A lot of people who used the product got sick. The manufacturer who made the product said, “Not I. Those people got sick for other reasons.” So everyone decided to have a lot of trials.

Everyone involved agreed that the plaintiffs were sick. Everyone agreed that the plaintiffs had used the product before they got sick. Everyone agreed that the pivotal issue was causation.

The defendant hired expensive experts to say that the defendant’s product was not the cause. In addition to the plaintiffs’ doctors, the plaintiffs hired expensive experts to say the defendant’s product was indeed the cause.

At the first scheduled trial, the jury returned a seven-figure verdict for this one person.

The lawyers questioned the jurors post-trial: “Why did you believe one set of experts over the other?”

“Oh, no,” said the jurors. “We couldn’t understand the experts. She was just so sick.”

Then the defendant filed for bankruptcy protection, and all of the plaintiffs and the defendant were unhappy.

Moral of the story: No matter the nature of your case, be it workers' compensation, insurance coverage or everyday negligence, putting all your hope (and money) on an expert-based causation argument is risky.

And that, boys and girls, shows why early mediation to settle your case, save time and money, and avoid publicity and bad precedent is a really good idea.

Attorney Teddy Snyder mediates workers' compensation cases throughout California. She can be contacted through

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