Brian Melton of Susman Godfrey. September 8, 2017. Photo: Robert Millard

Tell us about your biggest trial win from January 2016 to July 2017 and how you achieved the result for your client.

In 2016, I won a $20 million judgment against Cigna for a small, physician-owned hospital. Cigna had severely underpaid the hospital for hundreds of surgeries and procedures. Despite a string of Cigna wins in similar cases, I was convinced we could prevail. The hospital needed a firm willing to partner on the case, and I was so confident in my team’s ability that we took it on a contingent fee.

We studied Cigna’s trial strategy by reviewing prior transcripts. The judge had presided over similar cases, including one that went to trial prior to mine, so I had a lawyer observe that trial. Combining information we collected with critical pretrial decisions, we devised a winning strategy.

Share two trial tips that have been key to your success.

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare. Mock trials, run-throughs of openings and closings, and going over witness examinations thoroughly — all are critical. Do exacting mock crosses of your witnesses — most teams fail to do this properly.

2) Delegate and monitor — don’t micromanage. High-stakes litigation requires a great team. The only way to build strong teams at all levels is to let everyone manage and bear responsibility for their roles and work product. — Brian Melton