Sunday, June 1, 2014

Fight or fail, it's your case!

There is a high cost to filing or defending any civil lawsuit. The filed complaint is followed by a period of "discovery," where each side makes written requests for information, and where parties and witnesses must sit for deposition. It is where much of your litigation costs are incurred.

Starting or defending a court fight is expensive, and it takes focus over a prolonged period of time.

The skilled practitioner will focus the available discovery tools to maximize you budget, but you cannot control what the other side will demand of you.  The court schedule and rules have broad restrictions on discovery, but when you enter the litigation realm you will be immediately subject to multiple demands by the other side. You must respond to written interrogatories, requests for admission of facts and authenticity of documents, requests for production of documents and things, electronic data, physical examination or independent medical examination, deposition. Responses must be carefully prepared, and timely produced. And none of the effort to generate your responses comes cheap.

And your lawyer cannot answer discovery without your close involvement- after all, the questions relate to YOUR life and business, not his.

On May 29, 2014, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decided Valentine-Bowers v. The Retina Group and hammered down a plaintiff who absolutely failed to adhere to the rules on discovery. After having sued a doctor and his business for medical malpractice, Ms. Valentine-Bowers did not play by the rules.

  • She did not file responses to discover requests;
  • She did not appear for deposition;
  • She did not stay in touch with her lawyer or respond to his requests;
  • She and her lawyer did not comply with several court orders compelling her participation.
Ms. Valentine-Bowers' case was dismissed by the trial court. And the appellate court confirmed the correctness of this decision.  In the face of Ms. Valentine-Bowers' absolute refusal to participate in the lawsuit that she started, dismissal of her case was necessary to protect the defendants, and the sanctity of the court system.

What does this mean for your case?  

Whether you have filed a case, or you are defending against the claims of others, you have no choice but to participate in the discovery process. Close cooperation with your lawyer is the investment you must make to manage both your time and expenses. Work the case, together, to a satisfactory result.