News & Blog

The Gentrification of Brooklyn Means Lower Jury Awards for Plaintiffs

June 23, 2014 • Posted By Emma Christman • Trial Practice

“When Brooklyn Gentrifies, Defendants Lose” by Josh Saul. New York Post, 16 June 2014, http://nypost.com/2014/06/16/brooklyn-gentrification-is-changing-juries-who-decide-cases/

A recent New York Post article has analyzed the role that a more gentrified Brooklyn has played in jury deliberations.  As an increasing number of wealthier residents move to Brooklyn, juries have been producing more positive results for the prosecution in criminal cases and for the defendants in civil cases. This result has been referred to as the “Williamsburg Effect.”

A recent report by the city comptroller’s office has shown that rent in Brooklyn has increased 77% between 2000 through 2012 and during that time frame, the percentage of white people in Brooklyn increased from 41% to 50%.

While juries in Brooklyn were more “pro-plaintiff” in the past, the civil juries of today appear to be more “pro-defendant.”  The article points to a more “sophisticated” jury as the reason for this. Lawyer Charen Kim is quoted, stating that the jurors “don’t believe [plaintiffs] should be awarded millions of dollars for nothing.”       

As an example of this, the article looks to a recent case that settled before the jury verdict was reached.  The plaintiff was a worker who was injured when he fell from scaffolding.  After assessing the jury, the plaintiff’s attorney felt it would be best to settle because he did not believe the jury would award as much as juries he experienced in previous years would have.  The attorney noted that the jury looked more “conservative” and had far more people with advanced degrees.  The case ended up settling for $6 million, but the jury would have only awarded $2 million.

The juries are noted to be more “highly-educated” and are not willing to award plaintiffs with the same high awards anymore.