A recent Nashua Telegraph article suggests the venue in which the suit is tried plays a pivotal role in its outcome in New Hampshire. According to newspaper’s data, not only is New Hampshire a more conservative state compared to the national average but the degree of a jury’s defense-friendliness fluctuates wildly from county to county.
The Telegraph compiled data from four major courts in the state: Merrimack County, Rockingham County, and Hillsborough County (dividing Hillsborough into Nashua and Manchester). They discovered that while juries found in favor of plaintiffs in 53 percent of the cases filed in the countries 75 most populous counties, only 41 percent of cases tried in Nashua and 44 percent in Manchester resulted in successful plaintiffs. Merrimack County and Rockingham County tended more towards the national average, weighing in at 52 percent and 49 percent respectively. The difference between Nashua and the national average is even more striking when it comes to medical malpractice cases. According to a New Hampshire Bureau of Justice study, 26 percent of medical malpractice cases find in favor of the Plaintiff, however only 13 percent of the medical malpractice cases filed in Nashua end favorably for the plaintiff. Actually, favorably is misleading: the average jury verdict was $7,000 in the three cases I which the plaintiff prevail. In a medical malpractice case, the real scorecard shows this a loss. These verdicts will cover about 1/10 of the expenses incurred by the New Hampshire medical malpractice lawyer that tried the case.
The study also showed that New Hampshire juries are conservative when they do decide in favor of the Plaintiff. Although awards reach at least $1 million dollars in 8 percent of jury awards nationally, Nashua has seen just one verdict over $1 million, and none of the other New Hampshire counties in the study come close to the 8 percent marker. One-fifth of the awards in Nashua are for $5,000 or less, and less than 30 percent ever exceed $50,000.
According to the data, New Hampshire, and Nashua in particular, seem to be somewhat anti-Plaintiff, but it is important to look at the data carefully. In some cases, the Telegraph calculated the average jury award in the New Hampshire courts but only reported on the national median for similar cases, making it a little more difficult to make a true comparison. Also, as noted by the Telegraph, not all cases are characterized the same, again making comparison tricky. For example, some courts characterize “slip and fall” accidents as a separate type of case while others lump them in under the broader “personal injury” category. Ultimately, some venues have a certain personality when it comes to favoring defendants over plaintiffs and vice versa, but the picture is not quite as clear as these number would suggest.
Overall, according to study last year by a company called Jury Verdict Research, the median compensatory award in personal injury cases that go to trial in New Hampshire trials in New Hampshire is $45,000 and plaintiffs received a financial recovery in 63% of these personal injury cases. This compares very favorably to the national median verdict is $38,461 and the nationwide plaintiff recovery rate of 55%.