Six students representing St. James High School made it into the Top 10 team playoff round of the 2008 YMCA High School Mock Trial Competition, held Nov. 8 and 9 at the Montgomery County Courthouse. The team was coached by Beasley Allen attorney Clay Barnett, along with Scott Green and Kevin Davidson, both Assistant District Attorneys in Montgomery.
Team members included five 10th graders, Allyson Argo (attorney), Logan Bradshaw (witness), Kathryn Dismuke (witness), Anna Kate King (witness) and Kristen Vigilant (attorney), and one 11th grader, Zach Grate (attorney). This was the second year this group worked on the program as a team. They competed as a plaintiff team in a Defective Product case with a failure to warn claim.
Student judges, who were elected in the previous year’s competition, presided over the trials and the case was presented to a jury comprised of two idle teams. After a full trial consisting of openings, direct examinations, cross examinations and closings, the jury would deliberate and return with a verdict. Each trial judge was responsible for ruling on objections, based on the YMCA’s rules of evidence, which follow the federal rules.
The St. James team presented a case in which a star athlete and class president developed serious pain in her thumbs and wrists after she began using a “Blueberry” mobile communication device. As a result of her injuries, the plaintiff lost a basketball scholarship and a chance at a promising basketball career. The St. James team presented evidence from an orthopedic specialist who diagnosed the plaintiff with a condition he had discovered, called “game keepers thumb.”
The plaintiff team filed suit against the Blueberry’s manufacturer seeking compensation for her injuries and loss of future scholarships and future income. The suit alleged the product was defective, and that manufacturer refused to publish a warning label indicating that ulnar collateral ligament injury was possible – even though the company’s internal testing indicated such danger.
In the first three rounds of competition, the St. James team was awarded plaintiff’s verdicts. They moved on to a playoff round, where they again secured a plaintiff’s verdict. Finally, the team competed in the top-10 playoff round, where the jury returned a defense verdict.
“This team worked really hard and we were very proud of their top ten accomplishment. The kids were disappointed they didn’t get to the finals this year, but the word among the students we competed against was that our team was by far the toughest plaintiff team in the competition. We expect an invitation to the championship round next year when our team comes back as seasoned 11th graders.”