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Proving Damages in a Federal Tort Claim Case: Trying Your Case to a Judge

By: Ira H. Leesfield
Leesfield & Partners
2350 South Dixie Highway
Miami, Florida 33133
(305) 854-4900

I. Distinctions Between Jury and Non-Jury Trials

A. Know your judge.

B. Educating the court.

C. Taking advantage of the Trial Brief.

D. The value of preparation in a non-jury case.

E. The use of exhibits.

F. Direct and cross-examination of witnesses before a federal judge.

G. Federal Rules of Evidence.

II. Preparing and Trying The Damage Case To A Federal Judge

A. Is there room for emotion? see Grayson v. United States of America, 748 F.Supp. 854 (S.D. Fla. 1990); rev. in part/vac. in part 953 F.2d 650.(1)

B. Preparation of exhibits for the court vs. jury.

C. Preparation and presentation of testimony -- court vs. jury.

D. Significant damages award -- court vs. jury.

E. Cross-examination to the court on damage issues.

F. Opening statement to the judge on the issue of damages.

G. Your client's testimony, demeanor, and impact on the court (vs. jury).

H. Closing argument to the judge in a Federal Tort Claim Case.

III. Legal Arguments To The Court -- Use of The Plaintiff's Trial Brief

A. Standard jury instructions and governing damage statutes in a non-jury trial.

B. Utilization of similar and comparable verdicts. See Grayson v. United States of America, 748 F.Supp. 854 (S.D. Fla. 1990); rev. in part/vac. in part 953 F.2d 650. See also Johnson v. United States of America, 780 F.2d 901 (11th Cir. 1986)(2); and Williams v. United States of America , 681 F.Supp. 763 (N.D. Fla. 1988)(3).

IV. Synopsis of The Trial Brief(4)

A. Brief on applicable law; i.e. Rainey v. Beechcraft , 109 S.Ct. 439 (1988).(5)

B. Damage exhibits for the court; i.e. Day-in-the-Life Film, photographs(6), awards(7), certificates(8), cards and poems(9).

C. List of comparable verdicts and presentation of case value(10).

V. Comprehensive Discussion of Rainey v. Beechcraft(11)VI. Other Important Damage Cases:

Reed v. United States of America , 891 F.2d 878 (11th Cir. 1990).

Varney v. United States of America , (settled during administrative process).

1. Exhibit 1 - Judge King's Opinion.

2. Exhibit 2.

3. Exhibit 3.

4. Exhibit 4, Table of Contents.

5. Exhibit 5, Table of Authorities.

6. Exhibit 6.

7. Exhibit 7.

8. Exhibit 8.

9. Exhibit 9.

10. Exhibit 10.

11. Exhibit 11.

Client Reviews
I have known Ira for several decades and without a doubt he represents the best of the profession- a never ending commitment to his clients and a perpetual desire for learning and sharing his expertise with his colleagues. Richard
I found, and still find, that Ira’s firm will evaluate the case fairly and provide the client with a reasonably expectation of the process involved and will avoid giving false hope where there is none. Also Ira’s firm consistently keeps in constant touch with the client as well as referring attorneys so each knows the progress of a case. Finally I can tell you that if I personally were injured, Ira Leesfield is the first person I would call. Michael Browning
I'm impressed and very satisfied with the handling of my injury case at this law firm. I was helped and walked through every step of the way. I'm happy to report a fantastic settlement achieved by this excellent law firm. Thank you Rosa
The people at Leesfield & Partners are extremely professional and compassionate! I would refer your Law Firm to anyone that was in need of an attorney! Thank you my friends. Karen
Our family highly recommends the team at Leesfield & Partners. Every step of the way, Barbie Leon was there to make sure we were updated on the progress of the case as well as answer any questions we had. Barbie was in constant communication with our family. She is thoughtful and caring and worked hard to make sure we understood everything that was happening around us. Linda