Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Crazy World of Litigation

Another case that I worked on has settled favorably. I wrote the motion that pushed the plaintiff happily into settlement talks.

Last week an insurance company caved and after fighting for months, decided to take accept responsibility for an accident that they are under no contractual obligation to defend. It took me about two hours of research to determine that my client was screwed and didn’t have a leg to stand on. The partner directed me to do the best I could and see if we could bluff the insurance company into at least bending. Instead of bending they caved completely and are actually giving us more than we asked for. This is crazy. I haven’t even hit the five month point of working as an attorney. I could tear through the arguments I made with no problem. Why the hell aren’t the opposing attorneys doing their homework and properly representing their clients? I think this is pathetic.

Even worse is how much money is just lost to attorneys. The case that settled would have been successful in front of a jury. No question about it. Plaintiff sued for $100,000 and could have gotten a lot more. We settled for a third of that, and my firm is billing $25,000 for our representation. We were brought in later, after the in-house attorneys had a crack at it for about two years. Who knows how much money was already paid to litigate this issue before my firm came in. The client likely spent more to defend the suit than in the actual settlement pay-out. This doesn’t sit well with me.

Had my client offered a reasonable amount in the beginning to the plaintiff, both parties could emerged better-off than they ended up. Instead, lawyers are brought in and we are not cheap. So the clients pay more, the plaintiff gets less, the process takes years and only people who benefit from it our the attorneys. What a shameful system and profession.

6 Comments:

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Hi said...

I have been fighting with an insurance company for over two years. Glad to know that I am not the only one who gets frustrated, and the raw end of the deal.

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger Frick said...

You've destroyed my view of lawyers as the torch keepers of justice. My image of the world has been shattered.

 
At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

Make no mistake. The insurance company that "caved" was acting in its best interest. It avoided what may have been a costly battle and possibly bad PR. What costs it incurred in caving to your demands and then some will be passed on to its customers.

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger jojo said...

Jim--
Obviously I can't get into details, but less than five hours of research would have revealed that the company was under absolutely no duty to defend this matter. The contract didn't require it, state law prohibits it and the nature of the pleadings doesn't draw them in as a party.

They caved because they didn't research our bluff. They are now on the line for $100,000 because they didn't spend $1,000 on research. I had to scrounge around for scraps to support my weak arguments. Law to the contrary is plentiful and controlling. All they had to do was look.

I was relieved that it was my partner's name instead of mine on that horseshit demand, because I was embarassed to submit it.

Believe what you will, but I spent a decent amount of time researching this issue, and I firmly believe they dropped the ball, and so does the partner on this file. We were dumbfounded when their reply came in.

 
At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

Ok, I believe you. It is a really good story actually, that you scared The Man into submission with a creative bluff. Nice work.

 
At 12:19 AM, Blogger equipoise said...

Jojo, you should try your hand at poker :-)

 

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