On COVID Time: Why Timelines Are More Important Than Ever

On COVID Time: Why Timelines Are More Important Than Ever

Jury Research - COVID-19This summer, IMS | The Focal Point conducted a series of twelve day-long focus groups across three important venues. This research was designed to gather insights from eligible jurors to help our clients understand the crucial case elements to consider among COVID-related litigation. As part of this research, we posed various hypothetical cases to the participants and gathered their comments. 

Timelines and COVID-19

Three questions dominated our COVID focus groups:

  • What did the parties know?
  • When did they know it?
  • What else was going on at the time?

Timelines are important in many cases, pandemic or not. They help establish a narrative structure, organize the evidence, and provide a framework for jurors to consider the facts of the case. In COVID-related litigation, organizing information in the context of a timeline is vital, as the timeline of the development of the virus and knowledge about it is critical context that should be superimposed on your case narrative.

Jury Research - COVID-19

A well-constructed timeline can bring these elements together, allowing jurors to gain a sense of how plaintiffs or defendants behaved in a way that was consistent (or inconsistent) with their knowledge at the time. Respondents in our groups repeatedly asked for the specific timing of actions within given case narratives, as they expressed that the timing was incredibly important in this context. They readily recalled outside information from their own lives, and recognized the vast amounts of misinformation that plagued the early days of coverage related to the virus.

Conflicting public information, the source of public information, and ‘inside’ information a company knew or should have known regarding COVID-19 are all critical facts. Notably, our research showed that across the three different venues, people had different assessments of government at the local, state, and federal level. Timeline entries need to reflect who the jurors are likely to view as a reputable source of information on the virus.

Timelines will carry massive weight in COVID litigation, and the process of identifying the vital points for inclusion on your case timeline has become more complex—and more crucial. Our trial strategy consultants help clients determine which events will be most important to emphasize on a timeline, and our trial graphic designers conceptualize how to best outline the numerous points to create directional flow and facilitate jurors’ understanding of case details and the narrative.

Jury Research - COVID-19For additional insights on timelines and other features of COVID-19 litigation, access our
COVID-19 Client Resource Hub. Contact us today to discuss the specific needs for your case.

Jury Research - COVID-19Jury Research - COVID-19

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On COVID Time: Why Timelines Are More Important Than Ever

Appeared in IMS | TFP COVID-19 Research Insights

August 27, 2020


Jason Barnes

Jason Barnes is a senior strategy advisor to the firm’s top clients. With three decades of trial experience, encompassing over 100 trials and more than 500 cases, Jason has a deep understanding of trial preparation and practice. Jason serves as Associate Editor and is a frequent contributor to The Jury Expert, a publication of the American Society of Trial Consultants.

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Britta Stanton

As a former trial attorney, Britta Stanton pays rigorous attention to details and reviews case issues with laser-like focus. These tactics ensure that cohesive strategies and thematic presentations emerge from mock trials, Mental Mining™ sessions, and trial planning efforts. She creates persuasive graphic representations of the facts and laws relevant to each unique case.

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Clint Townson, Ph.D.

Clint Townson’s background in the fields of communication and trial consulting prepared him well for his position as Jury Consultant at IMS | The Focal Point. As an expert in the field of communication, he knows how to deliver crisp, effective courtroom messages.

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