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Closing and Opening Statements-Golden Rule Cases

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Closing and Opening Statements Golden Rule and the related topic of personal injury. For more information about closing arguments see the page on Wikipedia.  

Golden Rule-Cases

 2004 Rose v. Jaques, 268 Va. 137, 597 S.E.2d 64.During closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel allegedly made a golden rule argument. Defendant objected but the court did not expressly rule. Defendant failed to ask for a ruling and did not request a curative instruction or move for a mistrial. Rule 5:25 bars consideration on appeal.

2003 Velocity Express Mid-Atlantic v. Hugen, 266 Va. 188, 585 S.E.2d 557.Plaintiff’s counsel during closing argument made golden rule argument and also in terms of damages, suggested that plaintiff was entitled to the same quality of care as might be rendered to the wealthiest men in the world. Counsel in closing argument must not appeal to the economic fears and passions of a jury. Such an argument constitutes reversible error. This type of argument suggests to the jury that they should award damages based upon irrelevant economic considerations. Court had made repeated instructions to plaintiff’s counsel not to invoke the golden rule. Failure to grant a mistrial in this circumstance was reversible error.

1971 Norfolk & W. Ry. v. Keatley, 211 Va. 507, 178 S.E.2d 516.While counsel may have overstepped bounds in arguing that pain was “worth something” and how much they would pay for relief from pain, opposing counsel was apparently satisfied with court’s response to objection.

1968 State Farm Mut. Ins. Co. v. Futrell, 209 Va. 266, 163 S.E.2d 181.Plaintiff’s counsel argued “golden rule”: in determining compensation, jury should consider verdict it would want if same thing happened to them. Impropriety cured by instruction; not error to fail to declare mistrial.

1962 Phillips v. Fulghum, 203 Va. 543, 125 S.E.2d 835.Argument that jurors put themselves in plaintiff’s place is improper. Not reversible error since verdict not excessive. Reference by counsel to amount sued for not improper even though made both in opening and closing. Defendant may be entitled to instruction that such is not to be considered in arriving at their verdict.

1962 Allen v. Brooks, 203 Va. 357, 124 S.E.2d 18.Plaintiff’s attorney asked jurors, “How many of you have had the experience when you ride down ?” Defendant’s objection overruled. Error harmless since no evidence that plaintiff pursued that line of argument.

1960 School Bd. v. Thomas, 201 Va. 608, 112 S.E.2d 877.Plaintiff’s counsel stated that jury should return verdict in such amount, that if jurors should ever meet plaintiff on street at later date, they cannot state, “I did not do you justice.” This argument was improper but not necessarily grounds for mistrial.

1953 Seymour & Burford Corp. v. Richardson, 194 Va. 709, 75 S.E.2d 77.Invocation of “Golden Rule” is improper.

1948 Cape Charles Flying Serv. v. Nottingham, 187 Va. 444, 47 S.E.2d 540.Asking jury to put themselves in shoes of plaintiff is improper.

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Closing and Opening Statements-Golden Rule Cases

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