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Anthony Law’s Litigation Practice Wins Large Commercial Jury Award

Anthony Law’s Litigation Practice Wins Large Commercial Jury Award Just this week, Attorneys Vince Zuccaro and Andrew Randol received the Judgment Entry (Pleadings-123-Court-Judgment-Entry) from their September 2017 jury verdict in Delaware County[1]. The total damage: $35,670 for breach of contract, $233,490[2] for civil theft, and $45,000 in punitive damages, for a total judgment of $314,160. A separate award of attorney fees will be forthcoming. This will be one of the largest commercial jury awards in all Central Ohio for 2017.

In this lawsuit, we represented a Chinese citizen who started a U.S. subsidiary in Ohio, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars for payroll, expenses, and inventory, then watched as his only employee tried to assert ownership of the company and took the company’s sales proceeds for himself. A jury trial can be a nerve-racking ordeal for any client. Regardless of the actual stakes (e.g., money, property, ownership of a company), for the client it’s always personal. One person is lying, and one person is telling the truth, and it’s his or her reputation on the line in front of eight strangers who will be the ultimate decision-makers.  In Vince’s words:

Over the years I’ve learned how to eliminate matters of chance and ambiguity and focus the jury’s attention to the crucial aspects of my case:

  • I Asked Them What They Wanted.  Voir dire wasn’t just my first chance to speak directly to the jurors; it was my only chance to hear them answer. One aspect of this lawsuit involved disputed ownership of a limited liability company. I asked simple questions, for example: “What are some of the things you would look for in determining who owns this business?”  One juror answered: “They have a payroll to meet.” At closing argument, after which it was undisputed that my client funded payroll while the Defendant collected salary, you bet I looked that juror in the eye and reminded her of the conversation we’d had just a few short days before! Which brings me to a second point.
  • I Told Them What I Wanted.  Quick biographical note: I was a finance major in college. That degree looks very good hanging on my wall, which is basically all that it does. But I do know enough about Microsoft Excel to be a bit dangerous. I’ve seen enough runaway juries to know that I’d rather not spend months after trial trying to untangle an incomprehensible numerical verdict. At closing argument, I presented a tidy Excel spreadsheet summary of the figures pulled from the exhibits and tied my requests down to the penny. The jury didn’t adopt all my numbers, but I could at least see their rationale, and I’m glad I gave them a starting point from which to work.

This was a big win for our litigation practice. But more importantly, it represented a long-awaited vindication for our client. Click here for more information on business litigators Vince Zuccaro and Andrew Randol.

[1] Li Cheng, et al. v. Timothy Haney, Delaware C.P. No. 14-CV-H-10-0735

[2] The original jury verdict was for $77,830, after which Plaintiff elected to recover treble damages. R.C. § 2307.61.