Juries are more than capable of deciding damages for class members, not just individual litigants. Acknowledging that fact begs the question of why courts (and defense counsel), in class action cases, place such an emphasis on the need for expert testimony regarding damages at both the class certification and merits stages of those cases. Class action litigation nowadays all too often turns into a battle of the experts (and efforts to exclude them), especially related to damages, which invades the province of the jury, contributes to out-of-control litigation costs for all parties and results in the overuse of judicial resources. Indeed, the cost of preparing an expert report on damages can conservatively range between $75,000-$250,000, per expert, and is often exponentially more, especially, for example, in antitrust litigation.

Notwithstanding this blind rush to “expertize” damages issues, the fact is that juries and the courts can and should be trusted to handle those issues in class actions. For example, in a recent class action automobile defect trial in which my firm served as lead counsel, the jury awarded $2,700 per class vehicle, for a total of over $102 million in classwide damages, which they awarded following less than a full day of deliberation after an almost three-week trial. See Siqueiros v. General Motors, 676 F. Supp. 3d 776, 814–15 (N.D. Cal. 2023) (concluding there was substantial evidence to support the jury’s award of $2,700 per class vehicle). Although the plaintiffs there had a damages expert who testified that the cost of repair could be used as a basis for damages to restore to each class member the benefit of their bargain, the $2,700 amount came from an internal GM memo. The court further concluded that the expert’s testimony could be applied classwide, as it was based on an objective standard, and not the individual subjective expectations of each consumer. This example shows how juries can weigh record evidence and expert testimony at trial to determine not only per-class member damages but also classwide damages.