Updates:Legal Updates: Anatomy Of A Lawsuit - Lehigh University

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Legal Updates:Anatomyy of a LawsuitFriday, October 6, 2006Frank A. Roth & Heather K. Hosfeld2/18/20091

Why Are Lawsuits Important?!The Good :!!!!2/18/2009Ci ili d resolutionCivilizedl ti off disputesdi tAccessible to allFair, objective, governed by rules of procedureJudgment by impartial jury of your peers2

Why Are Lawsuits Important?!The Good (continued) :!!!!2/18/2009Predictable because includes process for learningthe facts before trialRemedies enforceable by power of the stateOpen to the public (fairness(fairness, transparency)Create precedents that are binding in future cases(allows planning in society; deters bad conduct inthe future)3

Why Are Lawsuits Important?!The Bad:!!!!2/18/2009Acrimonious; process is adversarial by designExpensive; most accessible to the wealthyLawyers involvedJ dJudgmentt byb jjury off your peers ((whoh may bbeuninformed, prejudiced, etc.)4

Why Are Lawsuits Important?!The Bad (continued) :!!!!2/18/2009Unpredictable and riskyTime--consuming and slowTimeOOpentto theth publicbli (no( confidentiality,fid ti litembarrassing)Create precedents that are binding in future cases(restrain future freedom of action)5

The Litigation Process2/18/20096

The Function of Civil Courts!Resolving disputes by:!!!Deciding facts in disputeApplying the lawR i i challengesReviewingh llto government actioni(judicial review)2/18/20097

Prerequisites:- Jurisdiction- subject matter- personal- Case or controversy- StandingCases:vsPetitiontoAppealAppealTrial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent8

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent9

Before you can go to Court .The Prerequisites to a Lawsuit!Must have a “Case or 009RipenessMootnessSStatuteoff LiLimitationsi iSubject MatterPersonal10

Jurisdiction!Subject matter jurisdiction:!!!What the case is aboutState courts have general jurisdictionFederal courts have limited jurisdictionA court must decide whether it has jurisdiction; it’snot up to the parties2/18/200911

Jurisdiction!Personal jurisdiction:!!!2/18/2009A court must have power over all the parties to alawsuitSince the plaintiff chooses to bring the lawsuit in aspecific court, the defendant is the party that maychallenge personal jurisdictionUsual bases for ppersonal jurisdiction:jresidency,y,place of business, conducting business, injuringsomeone (committing a tort)12

Jurisdiction!Personal jurisdiction (continued):!Parties to a contract can agree to:!!2/18/2009submit to the personal jurisdiction of a courtbring all disputes related to the contract before aspecific court (state, district, county, city)13

Law Applied in a Lawsuit!!!Usually: the law of the state where the court islocatedExceptions: Conflict of lawsParties to a contract can agree to have the lawoff a specificifi state applyl to any lawsuitliconcerning the contract (courts will follow thisagreement))2/18/200914

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent15

Exhaustion of Remedies!Government Agency Process!Discrimination cases!!2/18/2009Plaintiff must first file with federal ((EEOC)) or state(Pa.HRC) agency firstPlaintiff must obtain a “right to sue” letter from theagency16

2/18/200917

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent18

Exhaustion of Remedies!!Availability of an institutional disputedisputeresolution process can support dismissal of alawsuit for failure to exhaust remediesIImportantffor LehighL hi h to havehfair,f i accessible,ibland effective internal processes for addressingdidisputesandd complaintsl i2/18/200919

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent20

The 1st Step :How is a Lawsuit Started?!Easiest / Cheapest : Writ of Summons!1st Pleading Complaint!Service of Process2/18/200921

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent22

Discovery!!!A formal factfact-finding investigation conductedby each party to a lawsuit before the trialProcess can takes months or years dependingupon the nature and complexity of the caseVVeryllaborlaborb -intensiveii & expensivei2/18/200923

Discovery -- 3 Major Purposes!!!Preserve relevant information that might not beavailable at trialDetermine/narrow the factual and legal issuesin controversyyObtain information that mayy lead to admissibleevidence on the disputed issues2/18/200924

.and 2 important uses of discovery!Impeach a witness; or!Discover insurance policy limits!!2/18/2009In federal courts and many state courts, party candiscover the monetary limits of the opponent’sopponent sinsurance policyRationale: disclosure encourages settlement25

Discovery Process!Governed by eithereither::!!!Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; orPennsylvania (or governing state’s)state s) Rules of CivilProcedureTrial judge usually has broad discretion inapplying the rules2/18/200926

Scope of DiscoveryUnder Federal Rule 26(b),( ), a ppartyy can seek informationregarding !!!!Any matter, not privileged,i il dthat is relevant to the claim or defense of any party,whetherh th or nott ththe iinformationfti soughtht willill bebadmissible at trial,so long as it is reasonably calculated to lead to thediscovery of admissible evidence.2/18/200927

What is “Privileged”Privileged Information?!Rules of evidence recognize certain relationships as“privileged”, such as:!!!!Attorney-client;AttorneyDoctor--patient; andDoctorHusband--wife.HusbandThe courts place a higher value on confidentiality inthese relationships than in full disclosure for litigationpurposes2/18/200928

Attorney--Client PrivilegeAttorney!!!Originallygy designedgto pprevent a lawyery from beinggcompelled to testify against his/her clientPublic purpose: lawyers can advise and representtheir clients best if the clients can communicateopenly and honestly without fear that theircommunications will be revealed to othersAdvice has to be predominantly legal in order for theprivilege to apply2/18/200929

Discovery Limitations:“Work Product” Doctrine!Unless there is of a showing of need, an opposingpartyy to a lawsuit cannot “discover” informationpcollected by an attorney in anticipation of litigation ortrial (Hickman v. Taylor (1947))!2/18/2009In other words, notes, memos, reports, etc. prepared byattorney are protected but not immune from discovery30

Judicial Discovery LimitsJudge may intervene & consider whether:!!Discovery is unreasonably cumulative orduplicative; orInformation sought can be obtained fromanotherh more convenient,illess bburdensome,dorless expensive source2/18/200931

Types of Discovery!!!!!2/18/2009InterrogatoriesRequest for ProductionRequests forf AdmissionAd i iDepositionsElectronic32

Interrogatories!!A series of written questions posed by oneparty to a lawsuit to the other that must beanswered under penalty of perjury and within aspecified time periodAnswers to interrogatories can be used asevidence at trial2/18/200933

Interrogatories – Advantages!!Relatively inexpensive way for parties toobtain information about the case;Should produce a greater range of informationsince the party responding has a duty toinvestigate the questions before answering2/18/200934

and Disadvantages!!Carefully prepared by attorneys; notspontaneousProcess is often abused by parties askinghundreds of detailed questions2/18/200935

Sample Interrogatories – Definitions!!!!!“You” or “your” shall mean the Plaintiff, his/her agents and representatives actingin any capacity,capacity and all other persons or bodies acting or purporting to act onhis/her behalf.“Document” shall include the original and any copies regardless of origin orlocation or by whatever means made, of any written, printed, recorded, typed orgraphic matter of any kind or nature and whether or not now in existence.existenceIdentification of a person shall require you to state the name, present or last knownaddress, and any affiliation or relationship with you.Identification of a document shall require you to state the type of document, itsdate its author,date,author and the recipient,recipient in addition to the name and address of itscustodian, location and description of general subject matter. If any such documentwas, but is no longer in your possession or subject to your control, identify it andstate what its disposition is and the date of such disposition.“Person” when used herein shall mean anyy individual,, partnership,pp, firm,,association, organization or other entity.2/18/200936

Sample Interrogatories - Questions!!!!!Identifyy all expertspwhom yyou intend to use at trial.Identify all opinions held and the basis for those opinions, byany expert you intend to call at trial.Identify the name, address, and telephone number of allwitnesses you intend to call at trial.Identify all healthcare providers who have treated you as aresult of the incidents described in your complaint by statingtheir name, address, telephone number, and their field ofexpertise.iIdentify all exhibits you intend to offer at trial.2/18/200937

Request for Productionof Documents!!Parties ask each other for documents that theybelieve are relevant to their case or will lead toadmissible evidenceTypes of documents requested: personnel files;education records; financial documents;emails; policies/procedures2/18/200938

Requests for Admission!!Requests for a party to admit or deny underoath specific disputed facts alleged by theopposing party; or to admit the genuineness ofcertain documentsTool for narrowing the issues in a case andfinding out a party’sparty s true position on specificissues2/18/200939

Requests for Admission (cont.)!Useful tool for eliminating undisputed mattersmatters,not for gathering evidence!Relatively inexpensive & direct!Can save parties time & money2/18/200940

Depositions!!!Process for attorneys to confront and question anyperson, including a party, about the subject matter ofthe casePerson deposed (deponent) is under oathCourt reporter transcribes questions, answers andobjections made by parties or witnesses2/18/200941

Advantages of Depositions!AttAttorneyhash opportunityt it to:t!!!2/18/2009Observe the witness to determine how [s]he willappear if calledll d tot testifyt tif att trialti lGet the witness to commit to the details of his/herobser ationsobservationsAsk additional questions depending upon how thewitness answers the “prepared”prepared questions42

Disadvantages of Depositions!They are very expensive!!!!Time of attorneys (from both sides) in preparingfor and taking the depositionTranscripts (written & video)Witness fees/expensesTime consuming2/18/200943

Electronic Discovery!!Involves securing and producing electronicdocuments and files from hard drives, backuptapes, servers, etc.Attorneys often engage outside firms to usecomputer forensics (tape restoration; dataimaging) to discover digital evidence to support allawsuitit2/18/200944

Litigation Hold!“OnceOnce a party reasonably anticipates litigationlitigation,it must suspend its routine documentretention/destruction policy and put in place a“litigation hold” to ensure the preservation ofrelevant documents.documents ”ZubalakeZ b l k v. UBS WarburgW b(2004)2/18/200945

Zubalake vs. UBS Warburg (2004)!!!Laura Zubalake sued UBS for ggender discriminationand retaliationUBS attorneys failedil d to notifyi employeeslof theh“litigation hold” and failed to follow through on theproduction of certain documentsCourt found UBS had deleted emails, some tapeswere lost and several employees failed to producetheir files (although asked to do so)2/18/200946

Zubalake (cont.)!!As a sanction for failing to produce documents,court instructed the jury to infer that the documentswithheld and tapes destroyed were harmful to UBSIn April 2005, the jury awarded Zubalake 9million in general damages and 20 million inpunitive damages2/18/200947

E-Discovery – Interesting Figures!!!!4 6 billion:4.6billiamountt ini dollarsd ll thatth t U.S.U S companiesiwill spend internally in 2005 to analyze emails50--100: percent of all evidence that is email5059: percent of companies in a survey that didn’t haveemail retention policies1.9 billion: projected amount that U.S. firms willspend in 2006 on outside ee--discovery services[E-Discovery By the NumbersNumbers,, Corporate Counsel, October 12, 2005]2/18/200948

Prerequisites:- Jurisdiction- subject matter- personal- Case or controversy- StandingCases:vsPetitiontoAppealAppealTrial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent49

Settlements!!!!C occur att any tiCantime ini theth litigationliti ti processResults in no court judgment and no precedentfor future casesConfidentialityy is often an importantpterm ofsettlementOften considerable pressure to settle atcommencement of trial (on the “Courthousesteps”)steps )2/18/200950

Prerequisites:- Jurisdiction- subject matter- personal- Case or controversy- StandingCases:vsPetitiontoAppealAppealTrial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent51

Dismissals!!Motion to dismiss on pleadingsSSummaryjudgmentj d2/18/200952

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent53

What kinds of trials are there?!2 Forms of Trials!!!2/18/2009Jury TrialTrial by Judge (also called “BenchBench TrialTrial” or “NonNonNonJury Trial”)Constitutionally there is generally a right to trialConstitutionally,by jury, but it can be waived by the parties54

How is a Jury Selected?!!Voir dire (“to( to speak the truth”)truth )– questioning possible jurors about biasChallenges:!!2/18/2009Challenges for causePeremptoryp y challengesg55

On Trial!Courtroom procedures, personnel andarchitecture reflects:!!!!2/18/2009Solemnity and respect for tribunalHierarchy of participantsPProcedurald l bbarriersi bbasedd upon roleslAND .56

The Adversarial System!Principle behind the adversarial system:!!Truth can be found and justice achieved when twoopposing parties zealously present their cases to animpartial tribunalKey elements:!!!2/18/2009Confrontation of witnesses ((compulsorypy process)p)Cross--examinationCrossLawyers as zealous advocates57

Who Decides What at a Trial?!!2/18/2009Juries decide issues of fact and apply the law to thefacts, based upon the Judge’s instructions to thejuryOnlyy Judgesg can decide questionsqof law,,procedure, and equitable relief (e.g., injunctions –decrees based on fairness, rather than moneydamages)58

Burden of Proof!Civil litigation:Preponderance of the evidence!!2/18/2009More likely than not“5050.0001%0001% certainty”certainty59

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent60

Verdict / Judgment!Moneyy damagesg!!!Equitable relief!!InjunctionjOther!!!2/18/2009Compensatory damagesPunitive damagesgAttorneys’y feesCourt costsInterest on damagesg61

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent62

Appeal of Right!!!1st appeal (in Federal court or any state court)is always a matter of right – the losing partycan appeal and the appellate court must hearthe caseDifficult to reverse trial courtcourt’ss ruling of lawVery difficult to reverse judge’s / jury’sfi difindingsoff factf2/18/200963

Prerequisites:-Jurisdiction-subject matter-personal-Case or Trial CourtDiscovery(“fact gathering”)ExhaustionofRemediesTrialJudgeJuryof rightVerdict mmaryJudgmentGovt.AgencyProcess- damages- compensatory- punitive-Injunctive relief-attys’y fees,, costsSettled cases:InstitutionalProcess2/18/2009-- Can occur anytime inprocess-- No courtco rt judgment;j dgment noprecedent64

Petition to Appeal!!The 2nd (and usually highest level) appeal is bypetition – the losing party must ask the higherappellateppcourt for permissionpto bringg anappealCalled a “petitionpfor a writ of certiorari” at thelevel of the U.S. Supreme Court!2/18/2009(The Supreme Court sends an order [a writ] to thelower appellate court instructing it to send thecertified record of the case to the Supreme Court toreview it for errors)65

Petition to Appeal!U.S. Supreme Court rejects 90 to 95 % of allcases presented to it for appeal!2/18/2009Only hears 250 to 500 appeals from approximately5,000 or more cases presented to it each year66

! jurisdiction:Personal jurisdiction:! a lawsuit! a mayspecific court, the defendant is the ty that may jurisdiction! r py, ersonal j residency, injuring tort) 2/18/2009 12. Jurisdiction! . Microsoft PowerPoint - final_anatomy_lawsuit_oct06.ppt [Compatibility Mode] .

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