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Experts Say Contamination Verdict Result of Diligent Jurors

Law360 Insurance Authority

A recent New York state court verdict in favor of the former operator of three manufactured gas facilities in a sprawling coverage dispute over discharges into the Gowanus Canal has legal experts stressing the importance of empaneling jurors who can follow meticulous instructions.

James R. Murray of Blank Rome LLP, who was not involved in the case, told Law360 the verdict reaffirmed his faith in the jury system.

Murray, who represents policyholders and is a chair of his firm's insurance recovery team, pointed out that jurors had quite the task completing the long and complicated 47-page verdict form.

"I've been doing this area for a long time, and I know some of the issues and I still had to study it [the verdict sheet] to know exactly what was going on," Murray said. "It shows that this jury followed instructions."

He went on to say that the jurors "obviously were smart" and knew how to approach the instructions in the verdict form.

"They followed them assiduously," Murray said, "and they got it right in terms of consistency."


The jury's ability to handle these labyrinth of issues was heartening to Blank Rome's Murray. He concluded that, while environmental coverage disputes will continue, the verdict reaffirms his belief in the jury system.

"My big takeaway from this is, at the end of the day, have faith in the jury, no matter how complicated the issue," he said. "Have faith in your abilities as a trial lawyer to simplify the issues, make the jury understand and also have faith that the jury will follow the instructions and how important those instructions are."

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"Experts Say Contamination Verdict Result of Diligent Jurors," by Shane Dilworth was published in Law360 Insurance Authority on April 28, 2022.