What are pattern and practice witnesses and how do they help you recover punitive damages?
There is a two-step argument for the defendant which is true in any type of case (injury, mortgage, abusive debt collector, false credit reporting, etc.)
- The defendant has done nothing wrong.
- If the defendant has done something wrong, it was a one-time isolated event.
Do we have witnesses that have been mistreated in a similar way?
A few years ago, Wells Fargo was caught opening accounts without requests for new accounts.
The first time they were caught, they could have claimed it was just one account, an isolated event.
Then, we learned that millions of other consumers had experienced the same problem.
This defeats their claim that this is an isolated event.
If you can show witnesses who have been mistreated in a similar way, this guts the argument that this is an isolated event. If it is not an isolated event, then it is a widespread problem. It affects more people. So we call witnesses that can testify to this “pattern” and “practice” witnesses.
These witnesses show that this is a pattern of behavior. A way of doing business (practice) by the defendant.
If it was truly a one-time event, you will receive compensation, but the other guy will normally not be punished further.
However, multiple witnesses can result in punitive damages.
Judges and juries are very sensitive to this. They want to fix the problem and punish the bad guy.
This is the power of pattern and practice witnesses.
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