The first sentence in an appellate opinion can strike fear in the heart of any advocate. I should know. Nearly twenty years ago the California Court of Appeal began its opinion on a losing appeal of mine with this sentence: “This case presents a real doozy of a puzzle in mechanic’s lien law.” In a more recent case involving … Continue reading Draft Settlement Agreements with Care or You May Give Up More than You Bargained For
A recent opinion of the California Court of Appeal (click here to read) reversed a trial court’s decision to award attorney fees to the prevailing defendant homeowners in a real estate non-disclosure case. The reason: the standard California purchase agreement that included an attorney fee provision also required that the parties participate in mediation or forfeit the … Continue reading Ignore This Mediation Clause and Say Good-Bye to Your Attorney Fee Award
I like to read and report on appellate court cases that illustrate the benefits of self-determination in the mediation process as opposed to court-imposed adjudication in the civil trial process. It may involve a little “Monday morning quarterbacking,” but I don’t consider it to be second quessing anybody but more like watching game film to … Continue reading Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust: More X’s and O’s from the Competitive World of Litigation
Discretion is the better part of valor, a phrase that can be traced to a 15th Century English writer named Caxton, became part of the English vernacular after the publication of William Shakespeare’s ‘King Henry the Fourth’ in the 16th Century. The phrase came into the American lexicon in the 18th Century courtesy of Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac’. But what … Continue reading Don’t Ignore the Impact of Judicial Discretion on the Outcome and Cost of Trial
The New York Giants are playing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, again. What would happen if the Patriots prepared for the game by focusing exclusively on their strengths and the Giants’ weaknesses while ignoring their own weaknesses and the Giants’ strengths? That would be ridiculous, right? Bill Belichick, Tom Brady? Forget about … Continue reading Calculating Settlement Value Like a Super Bowl Champion
Even after twenty years, the so-called “McDonald’s coffee case” or “hot coffee case” is still the poster child of tort reform advocates and the rally cry of consumer attorneys. The former decry a legal system which permits such “frivolous” lawsuits while the latter complain that public relations firms distort the facts of the case to … Continue reading Deja Brew: A Mediator Looks Back at the Hot Coffee Case or How to Keep Your Dispute from Spilling into Court
Benjamin Franklin’s ” Poor Richard’s Almanack” had it right: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This was true for farmers in 1739 and it is true for lawyers and their clients in 2011. Not that Ben held farmers and lawyers in equal esteem,as you may notice when reading the following Franklin … Continue reading Indemnity Contracts and the Duty to Defend: You mean I have to pay even if I was not negligent?