Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Jessie Zeigler has authored an article for Law360 addressing strategies for successful representation of corporate defendants when the media is heavily involved in portraying the business or its industry as a villain.

In all manners of bet-the-company litigation, a company may find itself defending not just against the facts pertaining to it in certain court rooms, but content in the media about the industry as a whole and the perception that any entity in that industry is a bad actor. Every motion may go against a corporate defendant in high-stakes litigation in some courtrooms, making it seem there is no application of the law to facts of the particular case.

“When faced with a complete inability to obtain any favorable rulings in a high-stakes case, there are some tools in the trial toolbox that can be used to help build a more constructive defense and try to change the dynamic,” Jessie said.

Jessie outlines the following tools in her article:

  • Hire a public relations professional with specialized training in preparing a unified message and speaking with one voice during pending litigation, but take care to consider important factors to work effectively with a media spokesperson.
  • Research the possibility of arguments that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute if it appears the company cannot have a fair trial.
  • Investigate a change in venue, but conduct a thorough research of the judge, court and jurisdiction to determine whether a motion to change venue is worth attempting.
  • Consider a recusal motion, but note that a failed motion likely results in a judge even less happy with the company presiding over the remainder of the case (although in circumstances where not much can get worse, it may still be worth considering).
  • Create an appellate record that includes the transcripts of all hearings, proposed orders submitted by both parties and motions to reconsider.

The full article, “How to Avert Media Narrative and Get a Fair High-Stakes Trial,” was published by Law360 on July 2 and is available online or by PDF here.

This article was featured in the Law360 weekly recap of articles that generated the most buzz the previous week, “In Case You Missed It: Hottest Firms And Stories On Law360” (July 9, 2021).