Saturday, May 14, 2011

Suggestions on Choosing the best Trial Lawyer for your Case

I was introduced to an article  which I will publish in the next blog post for a few reasons, over and above it being though provoking: 

1. The author provides a way to cut through the clutter on legal web sites touting settlements. Gee, I have looked at many web sites and frankly, I can't tell you what those settlements mean at all. They are all taken out of context and no one has any way to judge whether the settlements are good or bad.

 2. The author raises an alternative thought.  Rather than looking at settlements on the lawyer's web site, ask the lawyer: How many cases have you tried to verdict*? Well now that is a really great question with lots of implications that might get raised in a discussion re  the strategy employed by the litigation firm.

Federal court MDL filing vs State court filing

It would appear that often time in these large cases like the  MDL Depuy litigation, a  Judge is chosen in order to get to a settlement expeditiously without a prolonged court battle.  The courts are just too bogged down.  MDL is a way to get to a settlement  without everyone going to trial. Now as I understand it in the Depuy case (remember guys, I am not a lawyer), your attorney has a choice to make if you are intending to file a suit: 

·        Should you file through the MDL litigation process in Federal court?

·        Should you file in state court?

 If the intention of the MDL is try a few bellwether cases** and then settle based on what they found in those cases, well, I’m not sure it matters much how many cases the law firm  have  brought to verdict because there might not be a need for future trials albeit, the option is there to continue the litigation if your lawyer is not satisfied with any settlement reached in the Bellwether case.  I suppose any lawyer you choose should prepare any case as through it will go to a jury.  If the MDL settlement is unsatisfactory, you are gonna be up the creek if your lawyer has no significant track record working in obtaining verdicts in  jury trials.
I would imagine that the 14 lawyers on the list (published previously in this blog) have extensive jury trial experience.  Honestly, in speaking with them, I never asked the question.  I just assumed this was so. 
If your lawyer files in state court, and has chosen to litigate (rather than work throught MDL), it would seem really important that the attorney surely should have lots of experience getting winning verdicts in many jury trials.  One could settle in either court (federal or state) prior to trial though.  If someone chooses to litigate a case, it would appear that they would likely be ready to go the full mile (get a verdict) and that firm should  have a clear history of getting favorable verdicts.  That seems logical to me. I think the question of how many cases have you tried to verdict is important. 

The law firms are all handling this case differently.  Some firms have filed or intend to file all of their cases through MDL in the federal action. Some have only filed a few cases in MDL and will file prior to the statue of limitations running out for each case.  Some have only filed a few cases in MDL and the rest of their cases will all be sent to a state court. I would guess that in the latter case, those firms must have run these miles many times and are willing to go to a jury trial presumably in order to get a larger settlement than one might receive from the MDL and/ or  perhaps in a shorter time frame?  Just my guess.  I don’t know one way or another…just thinking aloud.  

Complex issues and strategies for sure.  Do read the article though which I will put up in a few minutes following this post. 

If there are any lawyers reading this post, I welcome any comments.  If you have any thoughts on this..or corrections/clarifications, let me know.  Happy to share your comments. You can do that anonymously.

*verdict - the decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted by the trial judge to be final.

**By definition Bellwether is an indicator of future trends. Courts utilize a bellwether approach when large numbers of plaintiffs are proceeding on the same theory or claim and there is no other feasible way for the courts to handle the enormous caseload. This approach has been used in many cases including asbestos litigation. A group of plaintiffs are chosen to represent all the plaintiffs. The issues for trial should concern common claims or theories among all the plaintiffs. These representative cases go for trial and the results act as the bellwether for the other plaintiffs’ trials. The verdict from this grouping is extrapolated to the remaining plaintiffs’ cases. The actual results may be utilized for valuing groups of claims in settlements. The plaintiffs can also choose to continue with their own individual trial.

1 comment:

  1. How I tried to pick a good law firm:In addition to a good lawyer he has to be backed up by good team of medical experts.This kind of litigation is about as complex as it gets and the stakes are high for both plaintiffs and defendants.So you probably need to look for a large firm that specializes in medical litigation.The way I picked my lawyers was to ask a lawyer friend ,who happened to be a free lance criminal lawyer, to help me pick a firm.As to how good they are I probably won't know until the litigation is over which will probably be at least a year from now.