Part 2- Purgatory- Dante And Early Case Assessment- There Is Light At The End Of The Tunnel
by Larry Carson
Summary of Part 1- Inferno:
Even though you live a life of unparalleled virtue (at least from time to time), you find yourself once again boarding Charon’s little boat for another journey into the underworld. A journey brought about by another mass tort filing. But, this time you’re planning to take a different approach. This time you’ll escape.
But before going further, maybe you can’t envision an actual escape. Maybe the facts are clearly stacked against you and you think there’s no way out. Before you give in and start writing checks, you should consider the mess created with the Hurricane Katrina claims. Clear liability should not be confused with paying anyone who makes a filing. Hurricane Katrina was a terrible storm resulting in thousands of claims. But many of the claims were not legitimate as the fraudulent Katrina claims proved. If you’re in a similar highly publicized situation, you may find some relief from the heat by not caving in to public pressure and take the time to examine each and every action.
Planning the escape from mass tort Hell…
For those willing to challenge the established thinking, an escape plan focusing on early case assessment may very well be your Get Out of Hell card. It starts at the onset with casting a wide net to build the plaintiff’s profile.
Early case assessment is all about people. And people always have stories. From Thoreau to Elton John‘s Aida: some lead lives of quiet desperation and others picture themselves as living elaborate lives. But, to paraphrase Albert Camus: every plaintiff has made a series of personal choices that put them on the road to this litigation.
Your plan will involve searching for facts connected to those personal choices and reducing those facts to knowledge.
Facts are single puzzle pieces. The more facts the greater the knowledge base. But, the more puzzle pieces the more difficult the puzzle.
Knowledge is making sense of the facts. Seeing the entire puzzle. That’s what you’ll need for your escape plan.
But, be aware that your plan will fail, and fail miserably, if you elect to search helter skelter for isolated facts with no overall purpose or plan in mind. Gathering isolated facts is fun, but you’ll remain in Hell if having fun is all you want to do. Only those with serious intentions of getting out are successful. You just don’t luck up on an escape hatch.
It is important to begin your research with no preconceived notions regarding the subject. See Andreas Ekstrom’s TED presentation on the moral bias behind your search results.
If you’re searching in order to gain knowledge (which is the reason for early case assessment), then conducting research with preconceived biases will not lead to real knowledge. It will only lead to biased research with all the complications of selective filtering. Certainly not the complete story. A cookie cutter approach will not work. What will work is imagination, expertise, grit and determination.
Every fact leads to knowledge. Some facts are good for your defense, others not so much. But all give you added insight into the potential financial exposure and risk associated with the litigation. The more you know the more accurate your risk calculations.
But the facts won’t voluntarily come in and surrender. You’ll need to take the initiative to track them down. Sooner rather than later because they may not hang around.
Here are some areas to consider once you have sufficient fact pieces:
- Establish credibility or lack thereof of the plaintiff. Are they believable?
- How will they hold up to the grueling rigors of extended litigation?
- What keys to understanding are hidden in their background?
- What is the driving force behind the litigation? Anger, revenge, money, competition, politics, pressure from outside sources?
- What are the weak points for the motivation? What are the strong points?
And, with your escape plan firmly in place, you’re ready to rumble. With Part 3- Paradise; we’ll explore what a new client actually found when they decided to put up their dukes and fight.