Pyrrhic Victories Are to Be Avoided

This column discussed this subject almost 20 years ago (NYLJ April 7, 1999), but two recent decisions publicized on the front pages of the Law Journal suggest that it would be well to advise a new generation of lawyers that tactical victories in a jury trial may be followed by a loss of the appellate war. As a reminder, King Pyrrhus of Epirus, in Greece, triumphed over the Romans at Asculum, in southeastern Italy, in 279 B.C.E., but his losses were so heavy that he is reported to have said: “Another such victory over the Romans, and we are undone.” Bartlett’s, “Familiar Quotations,” p. 92, quoting Plutarch, “Lives,” Pyrrhus.

In litigation, the aim of an injured plaintiff is to obtain monetary or some other form of relief; for the defendant, vindication and dismissal of the action. It cannot be counted a victory if a favorable verdict is set aside by the trial or appellate court after a lengthy trial and the case must be retried at considerable expense, loss of time and renewed mental and emotional strain on the injured party or his or her survivors—all because of counsel’s avoidable error.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorney Thomas R. Newman, please visit the Duane Morris LLP website.