1 The Process and Stages of Litigation 1.1 Stages of Litigation Stage 0 Jurisdiction and choice of law Stage I Pleadings Complaints, pre-answer motions, answers Ethical limits Amendments Stage II Discovery Sequencing, tools and scope Limits and Compliance Stage III Pretrial adjudication Dismissals, defaults Summary judgment Stage IV Trial/post trial adjudication JMOL, new motions for trial Stage V Respect for judgments Issue preclusion Claim preclusion 1.2 2 Informal quiz on US civil litigation facts a) Most civil litigation takes place in the US in state courts b) Most civil litigation is resolved by settlement c) In the US system, clients themselves pay the lawyer d) The “American Rule” encourages lawsuits with potentially large recoveries but uncertain results; it encourages “law reform” lawsuits Financing Litigation 2.1 The “American” and “English” Rules Rule Who pays Resulting Incentive “English” Loser pays winner’s fees Encourages strong but low-damage cases. Discourage high-cost “law reform” suits. “American” Each party pays own fees Encourages “law reform” suits. Discourages meritorious low-damage suits. 2.2 Methods 2.2.1 Liability Insurance Content: The insurer promises to a) pay damages up to the policy limit, and b) provide a lawyer to defend any claim. Most standard liability policies also give the insurer the power to settle a claim within policy limits without the insured’s consent – the insurers want at minimum to settle cases when legal fees will be more that the proffered settlement. Nonetheless, the insured has the right to veto a settlement in medical malpractices. Most common forms of liability insurance (auto, homeowners, tenants) cover damages for negligently inflicted injuries only. If on purpose – punitive measures, even criminal suits. 2.2.2 The Contingent Fee Standard contingent fee arrangement: 20% of a settlement before filling suit, 25% of a filed suit, 33% if case goes to trial, 50% if case goes to appeal. No fee if loses. Contingent fees case the successful clients to bear part of the costs attributable to the unsuccessful clients. Lawyers charging contingent fees might prefer to settle at an early stage. Who’s in the risk pool Financial Arrangement How does the cost get spread Liability Insurance Other policy holders, some of No-accident driver’s premiums whom will have accidents (or subsidize those who have other liability-creating events). accidents. Contingent fees Other clients of that lawyer, some Fees recovered from winning of whom will not recover cases subsidize costs of losing damages. cases. 2.2.3 Flat Rate 3 A pricing structure that charges a single fixed fee for a service (i.e. demand letter/compliant). Often used when the recovery is low. Stage 1: Pleading – Introduction to the Complaint [FRCP 8(a)(2) & 12(b)(6)] 3.1 Rules FRCP 8(a)(2): A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. FRCP 12(b)(6): A party may dissent a defense by motion if the defense fails o state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 3.2 Cases Haddle v. Garrison (1996) p. 377 Facts: Plaintiff had filed a 42 USC §1985(2) claim (“…If two or more persons …conspire to… injure such party or witness in his person or property on account of his having so attended or testified…”) against his former employer for allegedly firing him in an attempt to prevent him from testifying in a Federal criminal trial. Defendant Garrison, Plaintiff’s former employer, filed a motion to dismiss under 12(b) (6) on grounds that Plaintiff was entitled to no protection under §1985(2) because he was an atwill employee. The District Court granted the motion, which Plaintiff then appealed. The District Court & Appellate Court: No set of facts are in support of the Plaintiff’s claim which would entitle him to relief – he has no constitutionally protected interest in continued employment. The Supreme Court: The gist of wrong at which §1985(2) is directed is not deprivation of property, but intimidation or retaliation against witness in federal-court proceedings. The term “injured in his person or property” define the harm that the victim may suffer as a result of the conspiracy to intimidate or retaliate. Thus, the fact that employment at-will is not “property” for purpose of the Due Process Clause, does not mean that loss of at-will employment may not injure petitioner in his person or property for purpose of §1985(2). Main procedural points of Haddle: Rule 8(a)(2) and 12(b)(6) mean that the plaintiff’s complaint must allege a harm recognized by law, or else it will be dismissed. Here, the substantive law was ambiguous about what an “injury to property” meant. As a result, the courts disagreed on the kinds of allegations that “state a claim” to meet this requirement. 4 Stage 1: Pleading – Plausibility in Pleading [FRCP 8(a)(2)] 4.1 Overview of FRCP History The FRCP are a product of the judiciary, not Congress, and therefore are not statutes; Congress delegated its own rulemaking power to the judiciary, so they are binding. 4.2 Rule FRCP 8(a)(2): A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Not Plausible – dismissed Allegations raise Allegations are mere possibility that equally consistent with conduct was illegal illegal or legal conduct 4.3 Cases Plausible - survives Allegations “nudge across the Allegations show line” to support a reasonable probable illegal inference of illegal conduct conduct 4.3.1 Conley v. Gibson (1957) p. 388 Plaintiff must “give Defendant fair notice of Plaintiff’s claim and the grounds on which it rests”. A complaint should not be dismissed under 8(a)(2) unless “beyond doubt that Plaintiff can prove no set of facts” that would support his claim. 4.3.2 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Towmbly (2007) p. 391 A complaint must contain allegations with enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible (not just possible or conceivable) on its face. 4.3.3 Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009) p. 391 Claims: i. Defendants established this “policy” of targeting and holding detainees in highly restrictive conditions. ii. Defendants knew, condoned, and willfully and maliciously agreed to the racially and religiously motivated nature of this treatment, which had no legitimate penological interest. iii. Ashcroft was the “principal architect” of this policy and Mueller was “instrumental in its adoption, promulgation, and implementation.” Two-step Plausibility Test: i. Find the “conclusory” allegations (i.e., “formulaic recitation of the elements of a constitutional discrimination claim”) and ignore them for now; ii. Review the rest of the “well-pled” allegations (factual statements that can give rise to a plausible interference) and decide if they plausibly show that something illegal happened: a) Must support a “reasonable inference” of illegal conduct; if there is an “obvious alternative legal explanation” then the complaint fails. b) Such allegations should “nudge the claim across the line from conceivable to plausible.” c) Courts will draw on “judicial experience and common sense” in this task 5 Stage 1: Pleading – Specificity in Pleading [FRCP 9(b)] 6 Stage 1: Pleading—Responding to the Complaint (Motions or Answer) [FRCP 4&12] 7 Stage 1: Pleading – Pleading Burdens [FRCP 8(c)] 8 Stage 1: Pleading—Amendments [FRCP 15] 9 Stage 2: Discovery—Sequencing and Tools [FRCP 26] 10 Stage 2: Discovery—Privacy, Privilege and Trial Preparation Materials [FRCP 26] 11 Stage 2: Discovery – Expert Discovery [FRCP 26] Testifying expert Fact witness expert Consulting expert Definition When to disclose to opposing counsel? What must be disclosed? Testifying expert is an With personal expert who is knowledge of the identified by a party facts who also happen as a potential witness to have relevant at trial. expertise – must Must write a detailed disclose identity and a report and the final summary of version must be testimony disclosed, along with identity 90/30; if it’s fact witness expert, should be disclose initially and the expertise should also be disclosed pursuant to 26(a)(2) 26(a)(2)(B) 26(a)(2)(C) The term ‘consulting expert’ is used to refer an expert, who though retained by a party, is not expected to be called as a witness at trial. Need not write a report and identity need not ordinarily be disclosed 26(b)(4)(A) 26(b)(4)(D) Rules on being deposed? Are draft reports discoverable? No need to disclose unless 26(b)(4)(D) 26(b)(4)(B) No The draft are protected as work product, not privilege Yes 26(b)(4)(C) Are communications with counsel privileged? If privileged, what 26(b)(4)(C) if any exceptions to privilege? No Yes N/A Nos 11.1 Rules 11.1.1 FRCP 26(a)(4) i. Drafts of testifying experts’ reports AND drafts of fact witness’ fact/opinion summaries are protected (like work product) ii. Communications between attorneys and retained testifying and consulting experts are protected (like clients); BUT cannot hide testifying expert’s opinions and their underlying bases for compensation (26(b)(4)(C)) iii. Identities, facts, and opinions of consulting experts are protected unless “it is impracticable for the party to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means” OR the expert is a Rule 35(b) (medical examiner) 11.2 Cases 11.2.1 Thompson v. Haskell P retained expert to perform psychological testing of P, who claimed sexual harassment caused her depression Held: Records of exam discoverable. o Either the retained expert is a fact witness (no on-going relationship, and this issue is brought before trial), or o If a consulting expert, it is impracticable to get the same highly relevant information about P’s emotional state. 11.2.2 Chiquita v. M/V International Shipper retained maritime surveyor expert to examine malfunction of carrier’s loading equipment Held: consulting expert immune from discovery o Not impracticable for carrier to get the same information 12 Stage 3: Resolution without Trial—Default and Dismissal [FRCP 41&55] 13 Stage 3: Pre-Trial Adjudication—Summary Judgment [FRCP56] 14 Stage 4: Trial and Post-Trial Adjudication—Judge & Jury Roles; Judgment as a Matter of Law [FRCP 38&51&59] 14.1 Rules 14.1.1 FRCP 50 i. Legal standard: a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue. ii. The timing: no later than 28 days after entry of judgment or after the jury was discharged iii. JMOL vs. 7 Amendment Jury Trial Right: the evidence in the discovery might not be presented in the same way as it will be at trial – the witness might change their mind – SJ examine the info presented differently in the different stages during the process using the same standard. iv. 50(b): hard to review afterwards; judges will know they still have a chance to make such motion after the trial – otherwise the judges will routinely make 50(a) motion before the trial v. Waiver issues: if no 50(a), waived 50(b); if no 50(b), waived. 14.1.2 FRCP 59 14.2 Cases 14.2.1 Pennsylvania Railroad v. Chamberlain A party offering evidence that tends equally to sustain two inconsistent propositions does not meet the burden of proof.