How Many Jurors In An Injury Case?

A jury is the conscience of the community. It is the most important role a citizen can play in our democracy.

The power of the juror’s vote on a case is a great power. It impacts not only the parties to the case but the community. And what happens in the courtroom echoes throughout the state.

Juries decide how much we value life. Whether or not safety rules matter. And whether accountability and personal responsibility matter.

How many jurors on an injury case?

In Connecticut, we seat 6 jurors and 2 alternates. The alternates sit through all testimony. They only vote if one of the 6 jurors are excused.

Every juror is very important. We are grateful for all who serve.

What Will I Be Asked At Jury Duty?

Do I Have To Dress Up For Jury Duty?

What Will I Be Asked At Jury Duty?

“Ryan, I have jury duty coming up, what will the lawyers ask me?” says a friend at a summer picnic.

We just finished 3 days of jury selection on a food safety case in Hartford. The topic of jury selection is at the front of my mind. So here you go.

In Connecticut we have individual jury selection. This means that a juror on a civil case will likely find herself in a room – possibly a court room – with the attorneys on the case and a jury clerk. It may even be in a conference room. 

Attorneys from each side have the right to ask prospective jurors questions.

There’s no quiz. No right or wrong answers. The purpose is to assemble a panel that will give each side a fair chance at trial.

Lawyers often ask questions about professional training. For example, will a nurse or doctor on the panel be able to set aside her medical training for the judgment of another doctor and rely solely on the evidence presented in the case? Will the person who works for an insurance company be fair to a plaintiff?

We also often ask about how sure someone has to be when they make a decision. The standard in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence. It is ever so slightly more right than wrong. It’s not even 51% it’s more like 50.00000000001%. Some folks need near certainty to make a decision and that may make it hard for them to serve.

Other common questions are about whether or not a prospective juror knows a party, lawyer, or witness.

The last bucket of questions deals with feelings about the parties. Can a juror be fair to a corporate defendant or does the juror see the corporations as evil? Can the jury be fair to the bicyclist who has the same rights to the road as a car or does he see the bicyclist as having less of a right to the road than a car?

These are the common sorts of questions that are asked. There are others too.

And if you’re not picked, it may have nothing to do with your answers. There are many reasons someone may not be picked that have nothing to do with bias. For example, a scheduling conflict or a hardship.

We believe juries are the conscience of our community and are deeply grateful for those who serve. It is truly the most important role in our democracy. The notion that problems that can’t be resolved between parties are resolved by the community has served our country well.

If you’ve served, what have you been asked? Leave your answers in the comments below.

Free Connecticut Residential Lease

I’ve seen a lot of bad leases in my career. Often placing unnecessary burdens on landlords. There’s one in particular that is sold at a big box store that I see a lot. Its terms add months onto an already long eviction process.

So below I am pasting a free Connecticut residential lease. It is not legal advice. Legal advice would be tailoring this document to meet your specific needs. Rather it is a jumping off point. Use it at your own risk. If you choose to use this you do so at your own peril. It is always wise to consult with an attorney prior to entering into a lease with a tenant. Housing law is a trap for the unwary.

Here’s the bones of a lease:


This Residential Apartment Lease Agreement (“Lease”) is made and effective ______________  ___, 20__ by and between (Landlord”), and (“Tenant”).

Landlord hereby rents to Tenant and Tenant accepts in its present condition the residence at the following address: , _______________, __________ Connecticut ________ (the “Premises”).

The term of this Lease shall start on _______ ___, 20___ and end on ________ ____, 20_____.

Tenant agrees to pay, without demand, to Landlord as rent for the Home the sum of $___________ per month in advance on the first day of each calendar month.

Upon execution of this lease, Tenant shall pay the Landlord a security deposit in the amount of $___________.

Landlord agrees that if Tenant timely pays the rent and performs the other obligations in this Lease, Landlord will not interfere with Tenant’s peaceful use and enjoyment of the Home.

A. The Home shall be used and occupied by Tenant exclusively as a private single-family residence. Neither the Home nor any part of the Home or yard shall be used at any time during the term of this Lease for the purpose of carrying on any business, profession, or trade of any kind, or for any purpose other than as a private single-family residence.

B. Tenant shall comply with all the health and sanitary laws, ordinances, rules, and orders of appropriate governmental authorities and homes associations, if any with respect to the Home.

A. Tenant agrees that Tenant has examined the Home, including the grounds and all buildings and improvements, and that they are, at the time of this Lease, in good order, good repair, safe, clean, and tenantable condition.

B. Tenant shall comply with all the health and sanitary laws, ordinances, rules, and orders of appropriate governmental authorities and homes association, if any, with respect to the Home.

A. Tenant shall not assign this Lease, or sublet or grant any concession or license to use the Home or any part of the Home without Landlord’s prior written consent.

B. Any assignment, subletting, concession, or license without the prior written consent of Landlord, or an assignment or subletting by operation of law, shall be void and, at Landlord’s option, terminate this Lease.

A. Tenant shall make no alterations to the Home or construct any building or make other improvements without the prior written consent of Landlord.

B. All alterations, changes, and improvements built, constructed, or placed on or around the Home by Tenant, with the exception of fixtures properly removable without damage to the Home and movable personal property, shall, unless otherwise provided by written agreement between Landlord and Tenant, be the property of Landlord and remain at the expiration or earlier termination of this Lease.

If the Home, or any part of the Home, shall be partially damaged by fire or other casualty not due to Tenant’s negligence or willful act, or that of Tenant’s family, agent, or visitor, there shall be an abatement of rent corresponding with the time during which, and the extent to which, the Home is untenantable. If Landlord shall decided not to rebuild or repair, the term of this Lease shall end and the rent shall be prorated up to the time of the damage.

Tenant shall not keep or have on or around the Home any article or thing of a dangerous, inflammable, or explosive character that might unreasonably increase the danger of fire on or around the Home or that might be considered hazardous.

Tenant shall be responsible for arranging and paying for all utility services (telephone, water and electricity) required on the premises. Tenant will also pay for all heating oil and agrees to keep at least 75 gallons of oil in the tank at all times. Tenant shall not default on any obligation to a utility provider for utility services at the Home.

A. Tenant will, at Tenant’s sole expense, keep and maintain the Home and appurtenances in good and sanitary condition and repair during the term of this Lease. In particular, Tenant shall keep the fixtures in the Home in good order and repair. Tenant shall, at Tenant’s sole expense, make all required repairs to the plumbing, range, oven heating apparatus, electric and gas fixtures, other mechanical devices and systems, floors, ceilings and walls whenever damage to such items shall have resulted from Tenant’s misuse, waste, or neglect, or that of the Tenant’s family, agent, or visitor.

B. Tenant agrees that no signs shall be placed or painting done on or about the Home by Tenant without the prior written consent of Landlord.

C. Tenant agrees to promptly notify Landlord in the event of any damage, defect or destruction of the Home, or the failure of any of Landlord’s appliances or mechanical systems, and except for repairs or replacements that are the obligation of Tenant pursuant to Subsection A above, Landlord shall use its best efforts to repair or replace such damaged or defective area, appliance or mechanical system.

Tenant shall keep no domestic or other animals in or about the Home. There shall be no smoking of any kind in the Home.

Landlord and Landlord’s agents shall have the right at all reasonable times during the term of this Lease and any renewal of this Lease to enter the Home for the purpose of inspecting the premises and/or making any repairs to the premises or other item as required under this Lease.

Landlord or Landlord’s agent may display “For Sale” or similar signs on or about the Home and enter to show the Home to prospective purchasers.

At the expiration of the Lease, Tenant shall quit and surrender the Home in as good as condition as it was at the commencement of this Lease, reasonable wear and tear and damages by the elements expected.

If at any time during the term of this Lease, Tenant abandons the Home or any of Tenant’s personal property in or about the Home, Landlord shall have the following rights: Landlord may, at Landlord’s option, enter the Home by any means without liability to Tenant for damages and may relet the Home, for the whole or any part of the then unexpired term, and may receive and collect all rent payable by virtue of such reletting; Also, at Landlord’s option, Landlord may hold Tenant liable for any difference between the rent that would have been payable under this Lease during the balance of the unexpired term, if this Lease had continued in force, and the net rent for such period realized by Landlord by means of such reletting. Landlord may also dispose of any of Tenant’s abandoned personal property as Landlord deems appropriate, without liability to Tenant. Landlord is entitled to presume that Tenant has abandoned the Home if Tenant removes substantially all of Tenant’s furnishings from the Home, if the Home is unoccupied for a period of two (2) consecutive weeks, or if it would otherwise be reasonable for Landlord to presume under the circumstances that the Tenant has abandoned the Home.

Tenant acknowledges that Landlord does not provide a security alarm system or any security for the Home or for Tenant and that any such alarm system or security service, if provided, is not represented or warranted to be complete in all respects or to protect Tenant from all harm. Tenant hereby releases Landlord from any loss, suit, claim, charge, damage or injury resulting from lack of security or failure of security.

If any part or parts of this Lease shall be held unenforceable for any reason, the remainder of this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

Tenant acknowledges that Landlord will not provide insurance coverage for Tenant’s property, nor shall Landlord be responsible for any loss of Tenant’s property, whether by theft, fire, acts of God, or otherwise.

The covenants and conditions contained in the Lease shall apply to and bind the heirs, legal representatives, and permitted assigns of the parties.

It is agreed that this Lease shall be governed by, construed, and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of Connecticut.

This Lease shall constitute the entire agreement between the parties. Any prior understanding or representation of any kind preceding the date of this Lease is hereby superseded. This Lease may be modified only by a writing signed by both Landlord and Tenant.

Any notice required or otherwise given pursuant to this Lease shall be in writing; hand delivered, mailed certified return receipt requested, postage prepaid, or delivered by overnight delivery service, if to Tenant, at the House and if to Landlord, at the address for payment of rent.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have caused this Lease to be executed this ____nd day of _________, 20____.

TENANT:___________________________                                LANDLORD:_____________________________

Happy September To You

Good morning.

It is September 1st. September is the most glorious time in Connecticut. I used to despise September as it meant going back to school. I loved and still love the freedom of summer.

September on the Farmington.
September on the Farmington.

As an adult, I welcome the richness of September. There’s no school to go back to. The weather is warm and dry. The sky a perfect shade of blue. The nights cool. Days getting shorter but still long enough.

This year meaningful – to the extent games can be – baseball will be played at Fenway Park. Football returns.

The apples are delicious. The leaves begin showing color. There are fairs, many, many, fairs. There will be sitting by the fire. And great running weather.

May life shower you with abundance.

And may Papi, Mookie, Xander, and Pedroia make a run deep into October.

Happy September to you.

Free Workshop For Judicial Branch Employees Considering Starting A Small Firm

Yesterday, the Connecticut Judicial Branch issued layoff notices to 126 employees. These cuts are devastating to both the judicial system and to the individuals losing their jobs. Sad news all around. Our hearts go out to those impacted.

On Saturday, June 4th, 2016, we’re offering a free workshop for those judicial branch employees considering opening a solo or small law practice. The workshop will be small. We will cover the basics. Everything from phones, to office space, to email, to accounting, to office supplies, and marketing. We’re willing to candidly share our experiences with you in the hopes of saving you time and money.

Please contact me if you are interested in attending at: An RSVP is required. Lunch will be provided. Space will be limited.


I Was Injured In A Car Accident. Will An Attorney Take A Fee On The Property Damage Settlement?

We can’t answer for what other attorneys may do.

At McKeen Law Firm, LLC we never take a fee on a property damage settlement for a car wreck.

When folks get hurt by someone choosing to violate safety rules, our job is to help get them back on their feet as soon as possible. For many folks, a car is a lifeline to get to their jobs and school.

When a car is totaled, folks need a new vehicle as soon as possible.  We’re here to help make sure the insurance company promptly pays you full value for your loss. And when we do so, we hand the whole check over to you.

When your car needs to be fixed that money needs to go to fixing it.

Some other attorneys may see this differently and charge a fee. Not us. Not now. Not ever.

There is no charge for a consultation and never a fee unless we recover for you.

Injured in a car accident? Need Help. Contact Connecticut Attorneys at McKeen Law Firm, LLC. The CT Law Tribune’s Personal Injury Hall of Fame Recently Recognized McKeen Law Firm, LLC for its outstanding results. We can help. Call us (860) 471-8333 or contact us using the form below.

I Was Injured. Will The Insurance Company Use Private Investigators To Follow Me?

For many folks the incident that caused an injury is just the start. The start of many more injuries to come. Chapter 1 of the Blackhat Bible for Defending Personal Injury cases is to keep adding insult to injury.

Whatever insurance company is representing the person who injures you is doing whatever they can to prevent you from recovering for the harms and losses that you’ve suffered. Make no mistake about it – they’re out to get you.

One of their “go to” tactics is to hire a private investigator to stalk you. They’ll pay some goon squad to video tape you grocery shopping.

The primary reason insurance companies do this is to intimidate someone their insured has injured into settling their claim for less than fair value. Frankly, it’s bullshit.

At McKeen Law Firm, we arm our clients against the goon squad. Here are some simple tips:

1. Talk with your neighbors. Ask them to report any unusual vehicles in your neighborhood. If they see something ask them to say something – call the police.

2. If you think you are being watched call the police. If at all possible get the vehicle’s license plates.

3. When it’s safe to do so – turn your cell phone’s video camera on and film the goons.

4. Immediately notify your lawyer that you are being followed.

5. They’re doing this to scare you. Being stalked is no joke. Consider going to counseling to address these fears.

Don’t let them intimidate you. That’s all they want. They want you to lose sleep thinking there’s someone in the bushes at your family picnic. That’s because insurance companies aren’t above putting a goon in those very bushes.

We’ve got more ideas on how to deal with this kind of stalking that we’re not going to share on this site. Too good to post. Don’t want the blackhats getting ahold of them. We know how to judo the goons.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. We know how to turn the tables on insurance companies.


Protecting Connecticut’s Children: Pass Senate Bill 1028 And Toll Statutes of Limitations For Minors

Connecticut has the terrible distinction of being the only State in the country that does not toll statute of limitations for minors. This is shameful. We shouldn’t lag every other state in protecting the rights of injured children.

In CT most claims must be brought within two years of the date the claim arose. For example if someone is in a car accident on January 1, 2015 that person has until January 1st of 2017 to file suit. Failing to file suite within the statute of limitations is in most cases an absolute bar to the claim.

Minors in CT cannot bring suit on their own. Any claims must be brought through their parent or guardian.

Under existing CT law if a minor (16 or younger) suffers injuries as a result of someone choosing to violate safety rules and his parents don’t bring suit he will never have the ability to seek compensation for the harms and losses he has suffered.

We know for a variety of reasons including shame and self preservation that minors may not immediately report harms and losses caused to them by a person bent on creating mayhem.

Senate Bill 1028 seeks to bring CT in line with beacons of more progressive states like Mississippi by tolling statutes of limitations for negligence until the child reaches the age of 19 or no more than 8 years from “the date the act or omission complained of.”

Connecticut Legislators should pass Senate Bill 1028. Providing folks with the opportunity to hold those who injure minors accountable for their actions makes us all safer. Accountability protects CT’s children and is good for us all.

When those who cause harms to children aren’t held accountable the costs shift on to the rest of us. Passing this bill is the right thing to do.

Who Gets The Engagement Ring After A Break Up?

Much has been made in recent days of a Georgia man having to pay $50,000 for breaking an engagement to his fiancee.

Engagement ring.
Engagement ring.

In Connecticut the most common form of engagement litigation involves engagement rings. Engagement ring litigation is really an extension of property and contractual litigation.

Connecticut follows the modern view is that the gift of the engagement ring is a
conditional gift, the condition being the subsequent marriage of the parties. If the
marriage does not take place, the condition has not been met and the ring should be returned to the donor. Thorndike v. Demirs, No. CV05-5000243S (J.D. Waterbury at Waterbury, Jul. 26, 2007.

Connecticut has adopted the modern view for practical reasons. First, “No-fault’ jurisdictions highlight that the primary purpose behind the engagement period is to allow the couple to test the permanency of their feelings for one another, and with that purpose in mind, it would be irrational to penalize the donor for taking steps to prevent a possibly unhappy marriage.

Further, Connecticut has adopted this rule for judicial economy.  “We do not want to require our judiciary to tackle the seemingly insurmountable task of determining which party was at fault for the termination of an engagement for marriage, as such may force trial courts to sort through volumes of self-serving testimony regarding who-did-what during the engagement.”

There are various exceptions to this rule (e.g. fraud) but the general rule in Connecticut is that the ring belongs to the donor until “I-do’s” are exchanged.