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Virginian-Pilot: Portsmouth Juries Have A Reputation For Sympathy When Hearing Wrongful Death Cases

Posted on Apr 21, 2011
Do some Virginia cities have juries that are more likely to give large awards when it comes to personal injury cases and wrongful death cases?

According to a story in the Virginian-Pilot, some districts are better than others -- and for interesting reasons. The article focuses on Portsmouth, Virginia (VA), where the working-class and sympathetic juries often give out so much compensation that even attorneys question its fairness.

In the most recent case, a Portsmouth jury awarded $25 million in damages to a seaman who was drugged and raped while on shore leave. The award is very large, especially in a case in which no one was permanently injured or killed. The defense is asking the judge to throw out the jury decision because it is so excessive. In another case, this one in 2002, a Portsmouth jury awarded $60 million in damages to a man who suffered severe brain damage in a car accident while working for a Virginia corporation. In that case, too, a higher court decided on a retrial, and the case was settled out of court. 

Some Virginia personal injury attorneys even claim that Portsmouth is so well-known for their sympathetic juries that when wrongful death cases and personal injury cases come up in other states, and when those cases involve a company with offices in Portsmouth, attorneys will take their cases to Virginia regardless of where the incident took place.

According to Virginia Lawyers Weekly, the average large settlement for serious personal injury case or a wrongful death case in Virginia is $3.47 million.