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New, Fresh Jury Faces: a Change for Product Liability Cases?

If you're of a certain vintage (let's say that you remember well the initial moon landing), you might just be enthralled every time you catch a rerun of an old television show focused on courtroom dramas.

Let's say Perry Mason, with that consummate attorney routinely besting the prosecution's case through presentation of a complex evidence-related narrative.

Mason's courtroom strategies might intrigue you and keep you glued to your chair.

Conversely, they might put your Millennial-age child to sleep.

We hear much about that group these days, with the "20-something to 30-something" demographic beginning to step forward and materially influence American life in myriad ways.

According to the presenters in a recent forum on litigation and liability, Millennials now sitting on juries might start affecting product liability outcomes in significant ways that spell departures from the past.

In a survey of Millennials, for example, about 84 percent of respondents stated a view that companies should do whatever it takes to ensure product safety, "no matter how impractical or costly." Reportedly, that finding induced an audible "intake of breath" among some defense attorneys attending the forum.

Moreover, polled respondents noted a marked cynicism regarding corporate behavior, with more than seven of every 10 participating Millennials agreeing that big companies routinely value profit over safety.

And back to your kid dozing off during Perry Mason's summation to the jury: Data show that, compared with baby boomers, Millennials as a group flatly tire and grow bored when presentations get too long or detailed. They want things fast, direct and, when possible, supported by polished visual evidence. Reference was made at the aforementioned forum to an acronym used by some Millennials, namely TLDR.

Translated, that means "too long, didn't read."

Some of the survey findings might want to be taken to heart by attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants in product liability cases where the jurors are predominantly youthful.

"The Millennial discussion has shocked us up here," noted one participant at the product liability symposium.

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