Law360 recently sought out some of the most talented trial lawyers in the U.S. for its “Trial Pros” Q-and-A series. Firm cofounder Wes Ball’s profile is featured below.
Trial Pros: Farrar & Ball’s Wes Ball
Wes Ball, co-founder of Farrar & Ball LLP, has served as lead trial counsel in product defect, catastrophic injury and commercial litigation against almost every automobile and tire manufacturer, domestic and foreign. He has prosecuted tire tread defect litigation in venues across the United States, as well as litigation on behalf of clients injured by Takata air bags and every major tire company, domestic and foreign. He is also co-founder of the newly formed Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball LLP.
Most recently, Ball played a leading role in litigation involving injury claims related to the 3M Bair Hugger surgical blanket. In December, the Bair Hugger litigation was granted multidistrict litigation status in Minnesota federal court.
Q: What’s the most interesting trial you’ve worked on and why?
A: I once tried a case wherein it was very obvious from the start of trial no ruling would go my client’s way, unjustifiably so. It is very interesting having to juggle doing everything you can to win while at the same time knowing your only chance was on appeal.
Q: What’s the most unexpected or amusing thing you’ve experienced while working on a trial?
A: In the middle of a six week trial, all counsel agreed to proceed with a witness examination using English-to-English translation. As her first language, the witness spoke a dialect of French specific to a small region of Liberia, Africa. The dialect is commonly referred to as Liberian-Kreyol. The court’s French translator was understandably lost and could not make the proper translation for the record. The witness’ second language was Liberian-English. It was very recognizable to a native English speaker, but not to a point that counsel could agree to proceed without further translation. Luckily, the court translator was quite confident in his abilities to translate Liberian-English to American-English. So, all counsel agreed to the English-to-English translation for the remainder of the examination. It was a very pivotal moment in the trial. The jury became very involved in listening to an otherwise boring bit of testimony. The trial ended in a favorable verdict in excess of $35 million, which was later upheld by the state supreme court.
Q: What does your trial prep routine consist of?
A: I draft in written word every possible avenue of testimony to be elicited through cross-examination, then break each thought down to two to five words. I use the summary to then draft an opening and further refine the trial theme. It’s a process I use to familiarize myself with every single small detail of the case.
Q: If you could give just one piece of advice to a lawyer on the eve of their first trial, what would it be?
A: You can never be prepared enough.
Q: Name a trial attorney, outside your own firm, who has impressed you and tell us why.
A: Mark Scudder of Strasburger & Price LLP, Dallas. Mark was the first attorney I faced in a significant injury case. I was a very, very young attorney and extremely wet behind the ears. Looking back on it, Mark could have taken advantage of me in an unprofessional manner. He chose the higher road. The case ended in a fair result for all involved. That’s a whole lot more than I can say for many other attorneys on the other side of the docket I have worked with since.