When a case like this comes to an end, some lawyers crash from the emotional and physical toll. Not me. For several weeks afterward, I was still incredibly energized—still eager to call witnesses and think about what I would have, could have, or should have done differently during the trial. My adrenaline was pumping as hard then as it had been before and during the trial.
Winning the case against DuPont was certainly a triumph, but it was by no means the end of the Castillos’ legal nightmare. I was extremely satisfied that we had gone up against the behemoth and slew it, but we hadn’t hauled its carcass off yet. You see, there’s winning, and then there’s collecting. Those two are worlds apart.
DuPont had brought in a total of 10 lawyers from three firms, all fueled and fed by their fearless leader, Clem Glynn, who had proven to be a formidable opponent. But none of this had intimidated me. In fact, Glynn’s presence only inspired me to work harder. I hadn’t wanted to beat him so much as to win for the family—but if kicking Glynn’s ass in court came with that then, hey, I considered it a bonus, because he was such a sarcastic, egotistical bully who thought he could come in and steamroll us in court by picking on everyone and everything with his endless wiseass comments. He was very pompous, thinking he was smarter than we were, but sometimes that type of ego can end up getting in your way.
Two months after the verdict, while the case was up on appeal, I certainly had no reason to talk to Glynn, and, frankly, there wasn’t much about the guy that made me want to. You could have knocked me over with a feather when one unsuspecting afternoon my office phone rang, and it was Glynn.
Curious, I took the call. “What’s up?” I said. Not even a proper hello. I didn’t really want to pretend to have small talk.
Glynn began to speak, and for the first time since the case I heard a different side of the man I once viewed as Goliath. He was having a tough time getting over the loss. He sounded terrible, as if he were depressed—or worse. He told me he was “taking it very hard” and that this was the worst loss of his career.
When I heard those words, I sank in my chair. A lot of guys might have relished that moment of admission.
I actually felt sorry for the guy. He was so downtrodden. I reminded Glynn how challenging a case this was and what a great job he did. He was fifty-one years old and perhaps looking backward at a time when I, having taken this one from him at age thirty-nine, was looking forward in my career.
I don’t really know why he called that day, but it sure was a moment of unexpected weakness. This case was emotional for all of us. Instead of rubbing the poor guy’s nose in it, though, I found myself consoling him.
“We were asking for $25 million and the jury gave us only $4 million. That has to be because of the work you did, Clem,” I said, trying to reassure him that it wasn’t a complete failure.
“Jim, you ought to know that at least five of the six jurors were going to give you the twenty-five. There was one holdout.”
Years later, we learned from Judge Donner that after the jury had been discharged, they talked with her clerk, Ray, who confirmed what Glynn had said that day.
At the time, though, I wasn’t sure how he knew this, but I was absolutely positive who the holdout was: yeah, that angry Realtor.
I had wanted to get rid of him from the start, but we were out of challenges, so I had to let it go. He didn’t want to be there, and he was going to make everyone else pay for it. Even little Johnny Castillo. And there was nothing I could do about it now. It made sense. That holdout must have been why the jury deliberated for two days—and why they stayed out for over five more hours after that economic damages question was asked.
That explained it. They must have had to compromise, because this guy obviously wasn’t interested in a payout like the one we were seeking. It was a classic compromise verdict.
In my next post, I write about the defense’s appeal.
This post has been adapted from my book, Blindsided, a detailed narrative of the Castillo-DuPont case.