"It really can be a jury of peers," says Dallas lawyer Robert Coleman, who scored a take-nothing jury verdict May 2 on behalf of an accounting firm. He and Lee L. Cameron Jr. worked during voir dire to seat a potential juror who previously worked for an accounting firm.

The defense lawyers, partners in Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, didn’t use a jury consultant. But they needed a jury that could stay tuned in to questions, for example, about when and if Generally Accepted Accounting Principles should be applied.

In an amended petition in Southwest Mezzanine Investments II, LLP v. Weaver and Tidwell LLP, filed Sept. 24, 2012, in the 67th District Court in Tarrant County, Southwest Mezzanine Investments II alleged negligent misrepresentation and fraud. Southwest Mezzanine alleged in the petition that the accounting firm should have discovered earlier the basis of accounting adjustment in a company in which Southwest Mezzanine held a $6 million stake.

In an answer filed Sept. 21, 2012, the accounting firm denied the allegation and asserted as an affirmative defense that it had no business relationship with Southwest Mezzanine.

Prior to an April trial, the court granted a defense motion for summary judgment on the fraud claim.

On the verdict form, the jury replied "no" to each of the two questions about allegations of negligent misrepresentation by the accounting firm.

During the two and half weeks of trial, Coleman says, "The questioning of witnesses was intense."

Robin L. Harrison, a partner in Houston’s Campbell Harrison & Dagley who represents the plaintiff, says his client is still evaluating options.

But he says, "The court and the lawyers for both sides tried a good case."

He says his conversations with jurors after the trial indicated that the panel could not resolve issues about accuracy of relevant financials because "records were lost when the company [in which the investment had been made] went out of business."

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