The Litigation Counselor is an e-newsletter providing updates and counsel to business owners, executives and managers based on recent court decisions or litigation-related matters impacting local organizations. In each issue, we will highlight practical advice to help identify, avoid, or resolve such potential problems.
If you would like any further information/assistance on the topics discussed herein, please contact Andy Baxter, the Chair of General Counsel’s Litigation Department at 703-556-0411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Litigation Case Valuation: The Most Important Tool for Successful Dispute Resolution
by J. Andrew Baxter
If you or your business are being sued or filing a lawsuit, there is one question you must ask your attorney first, and often: “What is the value of my case?”
The greatest advantage you can have in litigation, by far, is superior knowledge of the value of the case at each of these stages. Insurance companies have known this for some time.
Insurance companies employ advanced computing technology that tracks numerous data points for the entire country, all for the specific purpose of determining the ceiling to settle an individual lawsuit–the Case Value.
The information that insurance companies track includes local property values, medical reports, local demographics, local economic information, news reports, local jury awards, and claimant attorney’s past performance. “COLOSSUS” was the first widely-used software product in this vein, and the “WATSON” artificial intelligence supercomputer–which performed so admirably on TV’s “Jeopardy”–is the prototype for the next generation of case evaluation systems. Over the last 20 years, the insurance industry has learned to spare no expense when it comes to case valuation; and every business involved in litigation should take this lesson to heart.
Case Valuation changes, sometimes dramatically, throughout the stages of a lawsuit. The value of the case should be addressed at each of the seven stages of litigation:
- Initial Phase: At the filing of pleadings, prior to the service of discovery
- Early Discovery Phase: At the filing of written responses to discovery, prior to witness depositions
- Late Discovery Phase: During the witness depositions, prior to the close of discovery
- Summary Judgment Phase: At the close of discovery, prior to a hearing on summary judgment
- Trial Preparation Phase: At the court’s ruling on summary judgment, prior to filing trial motions
- Trial Phase: At the filing of trial motions, prior to the close of the trial
- Post Trial/Appeal Phase: At judgment in the trial, prior to filing appellate briefs
Business owners often relate to me their frustrations over past lawsuits they were involved in; and it is usually not that the end result of the litigation that was unsatisfactory, but, rather, that the result did not justify the resources expended on the litigation. This is entirely an issue of Case Valuation.
Owners are necessarily passionate about their businesses. Maintaining peace of mind during the litigation process is mostly dependent on being adequately informed or the risks and benefits of each course of action–in objective, substantiated, and monetary terms–at every stage of the lawsuit.
About General Counsel, P.C. – Every Business Needs a General Counsel — Founded in 2004 by Merritt Green, General Counsel, P.C. represents businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals throughout the DC Metropolitan Area and across the nation and globe. The firm has eight (8) practice areas to fully serve our clients: (1) Corporate/Business Law; (2) Government Contracts; (3) State/Federal Litigation/Dispute Resolution; (4) Employment Law; (5) Immigration; (6) Intellectual Property; (7) Franchising; and (8) Not for Profits.