Magna Legal Services Enhances Court Reporting Division through Partnership with Jones & Fuller Court Reporting

Magna Legal Services Enhances Court Reporting Division through Acquisition of Jones & Fuller Court Reporting

Magna Legal Services strengthens it’s court reporting capabilities in New England by partnering with Jones & Fuller Court Reporting, a premier agency based in Boston.

Magna Legal Services (Magna LS), an ALM award-winning industry leader in court reporting, medical record retrieval and litigation consulting, proudly announces its partnership with Jones & Fuller Court Reporting. Founded in 1984, Jones & Fuller has emerged as a premier court reporting agency in Boston.

The combination of the two firms signifies Magna’s continued expansion into the New England region. Effective February 6, 2024, the merger was facilitated by Chase Culbertson, Head of M&A at Magna Legal Services. Jones & Fuller’s founder, Steve Fuller, will continue to lead the Jones & Fuller team within Magna.

With a workforce exceeding 700 employees, including over 3,500 court reporters, 2,000 interpreters and 100 litigation consultants in 22 locations across the U.S., the union of Magna LS and Jones & Fuller positions the united company as one of the largest litigation support and consulting firms, both in terms of scale and the range of services offered. Clients of Jones & Fuller will now have easy access to Magna’s full suite of services, including document translationinterpretingmedical record retrievalsocial media surveillancevisual communicationsjury consulting, and nationwide court reporting services.

Steve Fuller, founder of Jones & Fuller, expressed his sentiments, stating, “Our firms’ complementary industry strengths, similar collaborative culture and focus on exceptional service will be valued by clients in Boston and throughout the U.S.”

Peter Hecht, Co-Founding Partner and Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Magna Legal Services, added, “Teaming up with Jones & Fuller will enhance our New England coverage and boost our ability to deliver exceptional court reporting solutions and exceed client expectations.”

Mark Williams, CEO of Magna Legal Services, shared his enthusiasm about the merger, affirming, “We are confident that this partnership will unlock new opportunities for our clients, employees, and court reporters.”

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The Use of Defense Damage Anchoring to Combat Nuclear Verdicts

The Use of Defense Damage Anchoring to Combat Nuclear Verdicts

The fear of the nuclear verdict is real, and as some commentators have noted, it leads to overpaying or nuclear settlements.

The topic of nuclear verdicts (and the more recently coined “thermonuclear verdict”) has dominated the defense bar’s conversation for years now. It’s defined here as a verdict that has an exceptionally high damages award, exceeding what is a reasonable or rational monetary amount for that particular case. The fear of the nuclear verdict is real, and as some commentators have noted, it leads to overpaying or nuclear settlements.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas recently released a study showing an uptick in plaintiff verdicts as well as million-dollar verdicts since the pandemic. Our research shows jurors all too often believe their role is to be a guardian of the community and send a message to bad corporate actors. Thus, the idea of verdicts that exceed traditional damages analysis is not surprising. So, what is a defense counsel to do?

Damages Anchoring Strategy

Consultants are recommending that in order to level the playing field, the defense bar needs to address damages more directly with jurors. Commonly referred to as damage anchoring, this strategy has been shown to not only lower damage verdicts but also simultaneously challenge the plaintiff’s claims. Historically, the defense bar has been wary of providing a counter-damages figure, believing that doing so would confuse jurors on liability issues and provide a minimum floor for a jury award. Research shows that, when done properly, the use of a defense damage anchor is an effective and sensible tool to combat nuclear verdicts. However, like any trial strategy, there are pros and cons to consider. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of defense damage anchoring at trial.

In keeping with the traditional defense approach to damages, attorneys decide whether to aggressively work up a damages defense or anchor based upon the likelihood of a plaintiff’s verdict. However, the plaintiffs bar has been honing anchoring techniques for years. By discussing large sums that they will seek during voir dire or referencing huge corporate profits or market share, they are essentially providing a high anchor. It seems at times that in today’s courtroom, the plaintiff really cannot ask for too much. While jurors will often scoff at the requests and deem the figures as excessive, overblown, or even ridiculous, the fact is that when the plaintiff suggests a higher number, we typically see a higher award. The plaintiff may lose some credibility by putting such large figures before a jury, but at the end of the day, the figures are often still considered (and worse, outright accepted) without a counter-figure from the defense. Left unchecked, these numbers can easily resonate with jurors and often leave them feeling that the choice is the plaintiff’s damages number or zero. The defense bar needs to address these high anchors and prime the jurors for the fact that if there is a finding of no negligence, then no damages is also an appropriate verdict. Don’t let the plaintiff control the damages aspects of a case from the start.

Don’t wait until the last minute. When it comes to damages, plaintiffs begin working up those aspects of the case early on in the litigation lifecycle and will either reference or present a high damage anchor. While cases evolve during discovery, the defense should be more assertive and proactive—and less reactionary—during discovery. Further, fully working up a damages defense allows for the defense to be more aggressive during discovery, mediation, and settlement position. Consider your damage theories and defenses early, not just as trial approaches.

Arriving at a counter-damage anchor cannot just be randomly determined based upon one’s gut feelings, though. The counter-anchor needs to be seen as credible and reasonable by jurors. When it’s done incorrectly, jurors can get angered at perceived “low-ball offers.” Figures need to be meaningful to jurors. Likewise, counter-anchors must take into account the legitimacy and seriousness of plaintiff’s injuries. Aggressively challenging damages without proper evidence can cause jurors to view the defense unfavorably. It is crucial to support the damage anchor tactically but also, when necessary, with sensitivity. The perception that the defense is attempting to undermine legitimate claims or downplay the seriousness of harm can negatively impact the defense’s credibility and overall case.

Challenging damages with a defense damage anchor can not only bring into question the validity of the damages claimed by the plaintiff but also shift some focus. Defense damage anchoring can redirect the jury’s attention away from the plaintiffs’ large claims of damages and toward causation, contributory negligence, and liability issues. Defense damage anchoring can also leverage themes of reasonableness and proportionality by allowing defense attorneys to argue that the damages sought are extreme, unreasonable, or disproportionate to the alleged harms suffered.

As noted earlier, the use of damages discovery to support a damage anchoring strategy can also potentially reduce liability exposure. Effectively challenging aspects of the plaintiff’s damages can also lead to the reduction of the defendant’s potential liability. Lower settlements or decreases in damages can result. Moreover, employing defense damage anchoring can lend itself to arguments that the plaintiff did not take reasonable steps to mitigate their own injuries or reduce their losses, which can also lead to reduced jury awards.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of defense damage anchoring at trial will depend on the specific facts of the case, the strength of the evidence, the skill of the defense attorney, and the persuasiveness of their arguments. Each case is unique, and the strategy employed should be carefully tailored to the circumstances and goals of the defense.

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Magna Legal Services Expands Witness Preparation Expertise through CogentEdge Acquisition

Magna Legal Services (Magna LS), a leading litigation consulting firm announces its acquisition of CogentEdge, a strategic witness preparation provided. The merger aims to enhance client experiences and innovate within the legal industry.

 Magna Legal Services (Magna LS), an ALM award-winning litigation consulting and support provider of litigation consulting, jury consulting, visual communications, court reporting, medical record retrieval, and language services, and CogentEdge, a firm founded in 2014, specializing in strategic witness preparation, announced today the combination of their firms. The merger was facilitated by Chase Culbertson, Head of M&A at Magna Legal Services. We are delighted that CogentEdge’s founder, Michael Gross, will continue to lead the CogentEdge team of six consultants at Magna.

With a workforce of over 700 employees, including more than 100 litigation consultants, 3,500 court reporters, and 2,000 interpreters in 22 locations across the U.S., the combined strengths of Magna LS and CogentEdge position them as one of the largest litigation support and consulting firms in both scale and services offered.

CogentEdge’s clientele will now benefit from easy access to Magna’s full suite of services, including jury consultingcourt reportingdocument translationinterpretingsocial media surveillancevisual communications, and medical record retrieval services.

“The CogentEdge team is super thrilled to be a part of the Magna family and I firmly believe that this strategic alliance is a pivotal step towards enhancing our clients’ experience through the litigation life cycle,” said CogentEdge founder, Michael Gross.

Founding Partner and Executive Vice President of Litigation Consulting at Magna LS, Mark Calzaretta, added, “As we embark on this journey with CogentEdge, we’re not just expanding our services; we’re crafting a new chapter of innovation in litigation support. Together, we’ll synergize our expertise to redefine excellence and set new standards in the legal industry.”

“We are delighted to unite with CogentEdge, furthering our national and global leadership together. We look forward to taking the best practices of both of our organizations to create a better and stronger future together,” added Magna Legal Services CEO, Mark Williams.

Battle of the Experts 2023 Conference Photos

Magna Legal Services’

Battle of the Experts 2023

Produced by Peter Hecht

The two-day CLE program took place on December 13th and 14th, 2023 at The W South Beach in Miami, FL.

The event featured interactive micro-panel exercises involving teams of outside counsel, in-house counsel, claims executives and audience members working together alongside real life experts.

Micro panels worked on preparing their moderators and experts for direct examination role plays, and outside counsel moderators and experts went head to head in a “Battle of the Experts” in front of a judge and jury!

Conference Photos