Litigation is fighting with rules, confrontation with a referee. Most people do not enjoy confrontation, and for others, it brings out their worst. If you are involved in litigation or have a claim that may result in litigation, please take our advice: don’t get cute. A few news articles lately have shown what happens when people try to get cute during litigation.
Let’s begin with two sore losers who ended up losing even more when they decided to be petty and cute. The first was in Colorado where a general contractor was ordered to pay a subcontractor $23,500 for work completed. The general contractor attempted to pay the subcontractor in loose change. The change had been dumped from its wrappers and boxes into a large metal container that weighed over 6,500 pounds. While the general contractor likely thought the payment was hilarious, the judge was not amused. He ordered the contractor to pick-up the change and issue a check, and the subcontractor’s attorney has now submitted a fee application for $8,000 for his time in dealing with the form of payment issue. So in short, the general contractor is going to pay more than 1/3 more than he had been ordered to do simply because he got cute.
Similarly, an employer in Georgia was sued by an employer for unpaid final wages of $915.00. The employer left 91,500 oil-covered pennies in the driveway of the employee along with a pay stub with profanity scrawled on it. Thereafter, the judge in the case ruled that the employer retaliated against the employee and had also failed to pay back pay, and he was ordered to pay over $40,000 in damages in order to send a clear message to employers about unfair wage practices, intimidation and retaliation.
These examples are good reminders of how to conduct yourself especially during litigation. Here are three important tips:
- Tell the truth. Do not minimize. Do not exaggerate. Do not split hairs. Tell it like it is.
- When engaged in a confrontation, you should expect that at some point a jury or judge is going to hear what you said or what you wrote. Consequently, when dealing with the other side, be respectful and above board at all times. In other words, don’t pay with pennies.
- Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it. For example, if you are supposed to provide documents to the other side by a certain date, be sure to do it. Speaking of documents, there have been situation where litigants have produced documents but instead of producing them to the other side in the manner in which they are kept, the person or company jumbles them all up to make them almost incoherent. Think of someone shuffling documents like a deck of cards. If you engage in these types of antics, you should expect the other side is going to take these types of issues to the judge, and it will likely cost you either credibility with the judge or a sanction or both. So, just do what you are supposed to do when and how you are supposed to do it.
We understand that it can be hard to take the emotion out of confrontational litigation. This is just another reason why you need legal representation. At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning lawyers engage in litigation and confrontation every single day. We have a fully developed ability to fight without getting personal or petty, which is just one of the reasons we have the reputation that we do. Just as importantly, after a serious accident, you need to focus on recovery not on getting justice. Let us do that. We are here if you need us.