When it’s best not to litigate – creatively resolving a costly defamation suit
Recently, a business client came to us with a mess on his hands.
Two transportation companies and their principals were suing one another for defamation over a variety of fairly minor claims of false and foolish statements posted to several websites. Our client denied making these online statements.
The allegations were petty and damages were either non-existent or difficult to prove. The case had been dragging on without much progress for two years; however, the case was now proceeding to trial and our client’s former counsel had estimated a trial budget between $65,000 and $100,000 over the coming 180 days. Working closely with our client, we assessed that these litigation costs had the risk of being economically damaging to our client’s company with little possibility of any long term reward.
Our firm recommended and, with the client’s assent, implemented the following strategies:
1) We made a claim for insurance coverage under the client’s commercial general liability policy, as defamation claims are typically a covered event.
2) We unilaterally dropped the defamation counterclaim that we felt lacked merit.
3) We immediately scheduled long-delayed depositions and insisted on the production of requested document discovery that had been neglected.
4) Leveraging these actions, we quickly initiated settlement discussions.
Within 45 days of being retained, the client’s insurer began to cover legal fees and settlement discussions began in earnest. In the end, the two parties were able to arrive at nominal settlement terms and walked away from what promised to be a costly fight in terms of both time and money.
By listening to the client and understanding what their real priorities were, our Firm was able to practically apply the law toward the best outcome for the client. We are especially proud of this aggressive strategy because it met the client’s real need to put an end to the litigation both quickly and inexpensively. By focusing on the client’s long run outcome, we were able to make a real difference in the short run.
Finney Law Firm – Making a Difference.