When a person has been wronged, that person may feel compelled to file a lawsuit to remedy the wrongful conduct. If a dispute involves more than $15,000, a lawsuit involving that dispute will be filed in a local common pleas court or in federal district court.
Lawsuits are expensive.
When someone is upset, that person may be willing to promise to commit large sums of money to file a lawsuit to “make a statement.” However, after a lawsuit is started, when filing fees and bills for professional services start to come due, the participants in lawsuits almost always feel at least some regret for having had to go through the process.
Lawsuits are long and boring.
Our society’s dispute resolution system is designed to give people with disputes an environment to learn all of the relevant facts and identify the applicable laws to resolve the dispute themselves if possible.
Lawsuits may (but seldom do) end with trials, which is usually the topic of television drama. Trials are where any disputed facts are decided by judges or juries. Despite television depictions, civil litigation is designed to avoid surprises at trial. In addition to a trial itself, the cumbersome process leading up to a trial is what costs so much money and what ensures that there are no surprises at the trial.
It is reasonable to expect that a lawsuit filed in common pleas or federal court will take a solid year to be resolved. Sometimes a case is settled or dismissed sooner. However, any participant in a civil lawsuit in common pleas or federal court should budget at least a year of filing fees, professional expenses and attorneys’ fees. The following activities are ones for which a person filing a lawsuit should be prepared to participate in and pay for before a trial even starts.
• Filing fees to start the lawsuit or assert arguments.
• Preparation or review of the documents starting the lawsuit or responding to a lawsuit already started.
• Preparation for and participation in scheduling conferences and arguing purely legal issues in court.
• Interviews with clients to prepare and serve responses to the written questions, requests for documents, requests to admit certain facts and depositions.
• Preparation, review and service of written questions, requests for documents and requests to admit certain facts.
• Identification and interviews of all potential eyewitnesses and expert witnesses.
• Depositions of witnesses for the opposing party and defense of witnesses in support of the claims in the lawsuit.
• Continuous organization and analysis of facts and law and their interaction in order to evaluate the strength, weaknesses and strategy to achieve the best outcome.
• Continuous updates and advice to the party in the lawsuit.
• Motions, responses and oral arguments in court concerning interpretation of the laws that apply to the lawsuit.
• Fees to all court reporters for transcripts of all pre-trial hearings and depositions.
• Fees to all expert witnesses for preparation for written reports and preparation and participation in providing testimony.
These activities usually make litigation longer and more expensive than lawsuit participants expect or want.
Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at Lee@LeeSchroeder.com or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.