Craig McClellan argues complicated cases
for two-minute minds
BY JOE MULLICH PHOTOGRAPHY BY DUSTIN SNIPES
It was literally a he said/she said case.
In 1999, plaintiff attorney Craig McClellan’s client said she
crashed into a concrete barrier alongside the freeway when the
defendant’s truck swerved into her lane. The defendant denied
he had gone over the line. Witness accounts differed. McClellan
knew he had to make a complicated scenario clear for the jury.
That’s where the model and photos came in. McClellan
had one witness point out the position of the truck and his
client’s car on a small model of the crash site he’d set up in the
courtroom. Then McClellan pulled out his phone and snapped
a picture of the model. Then he took a photo of the witness.
He texted the images to his laptop, and showed them to the
witness, who confirmed their accuracy. The jury was puzzled.
What was the point of all that?
It was this: He put the photos in front of the jury to keep the
defense from later challenging which witness said what.
“When the testimony of each was modeled, then
photographed so it could be put in perspective, everything fit,”
McClellan says. His client was awarded more than $8 million.
McClellan’s meticulous approach has resulted in 110 cases
with settlements or verdicts in excess of $1 million. His cases
have resulted in dangerous vehicles being banned in the U.S.;
forced automakers to offer training to car buyers; and changed
federal seatbelt laws. Ralph Nader has written about his
cases, and 20/20 and 60 Minutes have covered them.