December 3, 2020

U.S. district courts, which handle trials within the federal court system, are suspending or scaling back courthouse activities in response to a sharp nationwide rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.  Team CBTG, led by the duo of Ted Corless and Mary Catherine Lamoureux, is now set for trial January 11, 2021, in a case styled Cheryl Staple v. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. The claim and case has been pending in the U.S. Federal District Court since 2016. 

Northwestern Mutual denied a life insurance claim, alleging that the decedent, Desmond Staple, took his own life, voiding a $1,000,000 life insurance policy.  Mr. Staple was found unconscious in his car in the middle of the afternoon in a Walmart parking lot with strong doses of acetaminophen and aspirin in his blood stream.  While Northwestern Mutual denies the claim and alleges suicide, Vernard Adams, MD, the former Chief Medical Examiner of Hillsborough County for 21 years, concluded that Mr. Staple’s death was the result of an accident. 

The parties are now being asked to make their case and any defenses remotely, via Zoom.  Courts, counsel, and clients have had to quickly adapt to new rules and policies for conducting legal proceedings remotely. 

CBTG Leverages Technology for Litigation Success 

Ongoing spikes of COVID-19 cases mean trials will look and feel different for the foreseeable future.  CBTG has been studying how the use of Zoom affects jury selection, jury behavior, motion hearings, sidebar conferences, evidentiary proceedings, trial testimony, and how our adversaries act. 

There are technology tools that CBTG utilizes to help clients – insureds and personal injury victims – proceed with cases in-person or virtually.  CBTG will gladly explain these options for in-person and Zoom trials.  Call us at 813-258-4998. 

Practice Makes Perfect

CBTG has prepared, practiced, and participated in a number of remote jury trials with tremendous success.  Preparation for a virtual or hybrid trial differs from an in-person trial.  We have learned that we can achieve efficiencies without sacrificing the persuasiveness and toughness for which we are nationally recognized.   

Team CBTG is constantly evaluating the impact of technology on witness credibility; best practices for examining witnesses; employing data-heavy science, medicine, and structural engineering reports; and presenting powerful exhibit displays or compelling demonstrations. Practice makes perfect, and CBTG practices and tests the impact of remotely trying cases a lot

Zoom Justice 

Court hearings on Zoom during COVID-19 can be challenging if you have not conquered video conferencing.  Our litigators, jury consultants, and appellate lawyers know the opportunities that exist with remote trials while being mindful of security and confidentiality concerns. 

We have noticed some law firms improvise with the new technology and courtroom proceedings.  That isn’t CBTG’s style or methodology.  

CBTG’s goal is to always achieve highly favorable outcomes for our clients at trial; that’s why we’re a trial law firm.  With regularity, we try and win cases. 

In fact, there is a reason why CBTG has a state-of-the-art recording studio in Tampa, FL.  We have embraced technology with unparalleled success.  If you build it, they will come. 

Not many law firms work closely with technologists, technical support specialists, and engineers to understand best practices of how to use camera angles, connectivity, and audio and video equipment to maximize victories in a virtual courtroom.  We do. 

Resilient or Resistant? 

The legal profession is filled with a variety of people with a range of talents and abilities.  Some lawyers are excellent with technology, and some are slowly learning or remain totally resistant to change.  Being skilled with technology is an unbeatable advantage in a remote courtroom. 

As we navigate the pandemic, our law firm has rapidly evolved to ensure that we are able to effectively use technology.  We aggressively pursue each client’s rights and interests. 

The trial lawyers at CBTG are available to discuss these issues further.  We can answer your questions about remote court hearings and trials or any other questions you have regarding insurance disputes, property damage cases, and personal injury law in Florida.  Find out how our firsthand knowledge of the law and technology can significantly benefit you.  Telephone: 813-258-4998.  Email: service@corlessbarfield.com.

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