Practice Tip

The issue of causation is at the core of most product liability trials. The challenge for litigants, particularly defendants, is that jurors often find common-sense notions of causation more persuasive than those based on complex or scientific evidence, even though the latter may be more accurate or correct. Common-sense causation arguments are simple arguments that are consistent with lay jurors’ everyday experiences. Indeed, common-sense notions of causation are correct in most of our day-to-day activities. Accordingly, jurors come to trust their common-sense notions of causation and find it disconcerting when those notions are challenged by trial counsel. The result is that jurors who are presented with competing theories of causation are often likely to prefer the common-sense theory, even if it is not correct or plausible from the perspective of science or engineering. This is especially true of jurors who are not motivated to consider and integrate a large volume of complex evidence carefully and thoughtfully.