Now wait just a minute, I am not going to talk politics. I am going to talk about disclosure and hindsight. Whatever your opinion on Hillary Clinton, most people think it was a mistake for her not to have disclosed that she was suffering with pneumonia. Day in and day out, we counsel our clients on disclosure and here are some thoughts on the issue:
- What you think is important is not what everyone else thinks is important. HRC said she did not disclose the pneumonia because she did not think it was a big deal. But, she is not the decider of what is a big deal in an election. That is the voters’ job. The same is true of litigation: the ultimate decider is the jury. So we tell our clients that everything needs to be viewed through the eyes of jurors.
- Non-disclosure almost always does more harm than disclosure. Because some hubbub had already been made about her health, HRC probably thought it would be better keep her pneumonia diagnosis to herself and her camp, take some antibiotics, solider on and avoid providing any fodder to Trump, the media, etc. This is not an unreasonable position on its face. The problem comes when the information comes out anyway. With HRC, her stumble or collapse (depending upon your political affiliation) outed her illness. As a result, the focus is now two-fold: her health and her transparency. The same is true in injury litigation. Let’s say you have a prior back injury that you think is unrelated to the current back injury you received in a recent tractor-trailer accident and so you decide not to tell your lawyer or the other side about it when they ask you under oath. Let me be clear: this is a horrible plan. The other side is going to have full access to your medical and pharmacy records and the power of a subpoena. Defense lawyers get paid a lot of money by the hour to find things that hurt your case. A good defense lawyer will leave no stone unturned and when they find it you, just like HRC, will have two problems: the old injury is now known and your non-disclosure has now also created a credibility or transparency issue for the jury. Recall point 1; the jury gets to decide what is important and if you win.