Who would expect a dining-room table to deliver the goods? In a Nov. 19 final judgment, 125th District Judge Kyle Carter in Houston awarded $65,000 in damages and $102,000 in attorney fees to Daniel Jackson’s client John Herrin.

Herrin had sued a New York-based company after attempting to buy — but ultimately rejecting as unsatisfactory — a table valued by the company at $65,000 and identified as museum quality.

Jackson, a partner in Houston’s Emmons & Jackson, says Herrin’s wife took the stand and helped win the case. To the jurors, she appeared “like anybody’s grandmother would,” Jackson says. Her presence helped offset the risk that the jury wouldn’t empathize with her husband’s dissatisfaction with the way the table looked, resulting in his rejection of two luxury tables shipped by the defendant, Jackson says.

In a May 4 amended petition in John A. Herrin v. Max Protetch, et al., Herrin alleged that he paid $65,000 in 2007 for a table to be built, modeled after one designed by the late artist Scott Burton that Herrin had seen in a museum. In his petition, Herrin alleged he paid that sum to the only remaining defendant in the case at the time it went to the jury: Max Protetch Inc., which had exclusive rights to produce Burton’s designs. The first table that Max Protetch delivered to Herrin was damaged and did not conform to Burton’s designs, and a second table also did not conform to the designs, Herrin alleged in his petition. Herrin brought a breach of contract cause of action in the amended petition, among others, and sought damages and attorney fees.

In a May 3 answer, Max Protetch alleged that Herrin had “repudiated” the contract by refusing to accept delivery of the table. In a May 10 supplemental answer, the company denied that the plaintiff had satisfied “all conditions precedent to recovery. . . .”

Lawrence Rothenberg of Houston, who represents the defendant, did not return a call seeking comment.

On Oct. 18, after two days of trial and a couple of hours of deliberations, a jury found that Max Protetch had failed to comply with the agreement and returned a verdict awarding Herrin the $65,000 in damages and the $102,000 in attorney fees, upon which the judge based his final judgment a month later.

Jackson says he had an advantage as a native Texan opposing a New York-based defendant. “They didn’t speak with my accent,” Jackson says about the other side’s witnesses.

Jackson also thinks that it helped during voir dire when he compared his client’s situation with what he hoped were experiences common to prospective jurors: bringing swatches home, ordering carpet and discovering after installation that the floor-covering didn’t match the swatch.

Also, Herrin’s decision not to keep either of the two tables delivered meant, Jackson says, that he went before the jury without the money he had paid and without a table — all of which led the jury to see the case from the point of view of a discerning consumer of luxury products, Jackson’s client.

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