Attorney Uses Five Trial Guides Books to Win Six-Figure Verdict

Congratulations to trial lawyer—and Trial Guides customer—Angie Perkins on her recent verdict! Perkins was co-counsel on a wrongful termination and discrimination case, brought to court under the FMLA,  ADA, and Idaho Human Rights Act. Perkins picked the jury, presented the opening and closing statements, and conducted the direct examination of their client and his wife. Her co-counsel was Idaho attorney Jeremiah Hudson. 

Case Details

In 2017, a regional industrial supply provider fired a man after 17 years of employment. At the time, the employee was on light duty, awaiting back surgery for a non-work injury. He had taken six weeks off entirely, but returned to work because his employer’s self-insured health benefit administrator was slow to authorize his back surgery, and he needed to preserve the remaining six weeks of FMLA leave for surgery recovery. Within three weeks of returning on light duty, he was fired for reasons the plaintiff saw as clearly pretextual. Perkins took the case and argued it before a jury in April of 2022. 

The defense argued that their executives did not know their employee was hurt or on FMLA, and therefore could not discriminate against him. Perkins opined that that did not pair well with their repeated echoes of how at the defendant company “We’re family,” and that “[the company] is family-owned.” The jury agreed — and after five hours of deliberation, awarded the plaintiff $51,711 in backpay, and $877,500 in noneconomic damages. Under the Idaho Human Rights Act, there are no caps on noneconomic damages. Under the FMLA, he will also receive liquidated damages of $51,711. The most the defense ever offered Perkins’ client was $150,000 three weeks before trial. The plaintiff team is now in the process of petitioning the court for fees, in accordance with both federal acts.

Besides the backpay amount, Perkins did not to ask the jury for a specific number in closing; instead, she asked them to consider what additional amount of pay her client would have accepted on the day he was fired in order to keep his job, with the caveat that he would suffer all the things he had suffered since being fired up until the day of the jury's decision. They ended up awarding him what would have amounted to a $175,500/year raise had he been negotiating his pay on that day, instead of getting fired. (Perkins credits Boise employment attorney Erika Birch with this novel—and highly successful—approach.)

Trial Guides Titles in Action

Several Trial Guides titles made a positive impact on the plaintiff’s case. “It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what titles we relied on for this trial,” says Perkins. “I’ve read numerous and I know they all informed my efforts.” Specifically, she used the Trial by Human approach in her voir dire, as well as the From Hostage to Hero’s “one-liner” approach to opening. “I generally referred to Elements of Trial often to make sure I was thinking of everything I needed to in preparation for trial,” she continues. “I also recently read Friedman’s The Way of the Trial Lawyer, and during prep and trial kept in mind many of his [thoughts] about courage, self-reflection, and self-doubt. I have no doubt that his ‘counseling’ kept me going when I was scared.”

Finally, Ms. Perkins is grateful for the book Trial by Woman, and credits this title with her case’s outcome. “Putting to work what I've been reading about and learning about for the past two years felt like pure, literal magic,” she says. “I just did my best, and to my surprise, that was a pretty good job. Had I let fear rule, my best would have never seen the light of day.”

Trial By Human by Nicholas Rowley and Steven Halteman



From Hostage to Hero by Sari de la Motte



The Elements of Trial by Rick Friedman and Bill Cummings 



The Way of the Trial Lawyer by Rick Friedman



Trial By Woman by Courtney Rowley and Theresa Bowen Hatch