Dealing with a Lawsuit

Everybody does not like to get sued.  Not only your company gets subjected to the courts, you are also brought into the court of public opinion.  If your office have received a notice that your organization is being sued, it is best to deal with it as soon as possible.

Notify your insurance carriers

Some insurance companies not only offer assurance after accidents, but also cover your costs incurred during lawsuits.  It is best to inform your insurance company as early as possible, as well as study the requirements and limitations of your insurance when it comes to covering corporate lawsuits.

Provide the attorneys

If the lawsuit also covers certain employees in your organization, your company attorney should represent both the company and the individual employees who have been charged.  This creates a united front in defending your case, as it shows that you believe in your employee. 

However, if the individual wants a separate representation, your company attorney should withdraw from the case altogether.  To prevent such scenario, have your employees sign a conflict of interest waiver, allowing the company attorney to continue representing the company.

Have your attorney get involved early

Let the company attorney handle the agency inquiries and proceedings instead of having the company management do so.  You want your attorney involved before dealing with the agency.  Do not let the organization give short shrifts to the agency process, which is prone to having the story change as the lawsuit proceeds.

Research as early as possible

Get your lawyer involved in the fact finding process.  Your lawyer can help gather information and can also predict what the opposing attorney would do.

Preserve the evidence

Do not wait for a discovery request or limiting your interests to the obvious documents.  Search out for e-mail messages, voicemail messages, personal files of the supervisor, journals, and other documents that may or can be used as evidence for the company.

Know the plaintiff’s story right away

Get a hold of the affidavit of your plaintiff early on the lawsuit.  You have to know whom you are dealing with and prevent the complainant from changing stories on you.

Develop a strategy

Once you have done through fact finding and know the plaintiff’s side of the story, start developing a strategy that you will pursue.  You can also discuss the different strategies available, then letting your company attorney decide on what to do.

Control the documents

Since you control the vast majority of the documents, use them to your advantage.

Consider a motion to dismiss

File a motion to dismiss when you can get something of value that improves your case, such as ending the case with finality, eliminating a party from the suit, limiting the exposure or the scope of discovery.

Consider summary judgment

Assuming good faith, you can prove that there are no genuine issues of material fact to start with.  If that is so, file for summary judgment.  This is your last chance to limit or dispose the claims before an actual trial.  However, it is extremely time-consuming to prepare for a summary judgment, so make sure that filing this would be to your advantage.

Consider a settlement

If everything has been done yet a trial would take place, consider offering a settlement to the plaintiff.  This could save you tons of money and avoid risking of losing money or suffer the debilitating effect of a trial.

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