Summary Jury Trial

Recently approved by the Michigan Supreme Court as a process to present evidence to a jury in a single day and the jury’s decision is binding on the parties. The jury is selected from the court’s jury pool and the trial is conducted in the county court house. The parties also select the judge who will help in orchestrating the summary jury trial process and the ground rules established by the parties.

Most often used when the cost of a full trial is not warranted and preserving the full panoply of appellate rights is not important. The parties want a decision from a jury rather than a single arbitrator or panel of arbitrators.

Indications for consideration:

  • Counsel have been effective in working together professionally and cooperatively
  • The exposure involved in the case does not justify the cost and expense of a traditional jury trial
  • The facts of the case (disputed or otherwise) are fairly straight forward and not overly complex

  • The parties are interested in a binding resolution of the dispute at the earliest possible time rather than preserving the rights of full appellate review
  • The parties prefer a jury’s determination rather than that of an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators
  • The parties have an interest in entering into a high-low agreement that is not disclosed to the jury prior to its deliberations

Timing

Often follows a ruling on a dispositive motion or when parties want a jury determination in lieu of a ruling on a pending dispositive motion.

Instead of a med-arb process (previously discussed) the summary jury trial can substitute for an arbitration. This process may be very attractive to some insurers that have grown potentially suspect of the results obtained in an arbitration.