Being Civil During Litigation

Think Twice Before Hitting Send – When Being Civil In Litigation Pays

Dec 7, 2023

Thanks for clicking through to learn more about this interesting case where a lawyer’s conduct cost him and his client nearly $500,000.

Perhaps you noticed that the newsletter content was a bit different from my past newsletters. That’s because the case was written entirely by CHAT PDF. I simply uploaded a PDF of the case into the platform and asked for a 200-word newsletter summarizing the key points of the case. The summary is not too bad. Wouldn’t you agree? I’d like to think I can’t be replaced entirely by AI. So here are a couple points that CHAT PDF missed:

The plaintiff prevailed only on his claim for failure to engage in a good faith interactive process and was awarded about $130K in damages. The jury found for the employer on disability discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate, and failure to prevent discrimination.

The plaintiff then sought fees of approximately $1.193 million plus a multiplier of 1.75 for a total fee request of about $2.09 million. The court corrected some arithmetic and then applied a 1.2 multiplier for an initial fee award of about $1.145 million.

But the court then applied a negative multiplier of .4 reducing the fees awarded to about $686 thousand. Here is part of what the trial court wrote after quoting two and one-half pages of counsel’s e-mail messages: “[counsel’s] incivility was not only directed to opposing counsel; it was also directed to the Court . . . ‘Plaintiff’s counsel’s tone of voice (which was not reflected in the Court Reporter’s record) was both belittling and antagonistic; at times it verged on the contemptuous. Plaintiff counsel’s ad hominem attacks were unnecessary for the zealous representation of his client.”

The appellate court affirmed the fee award. So, being a total jerk cost the lawyer and his client nearly half a million bucks. Undoubtedly, this case will be cited repeatedly in motions for sanctions and oppositions to fee requests. Don’t give opposing counsel any grist for this mill. Be professional. Take the high ground. Don’t personalize your client’s dispute so that it becomes your dispute.

Do you have a case that you’d like to settle quickly? I have some open dates at the end of this year and in January. Dates are always opening up as scheduled arbitration hearings go off calendar almost every month. Check my calendar and book instantly.

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