I just finished a full day of legal research so I am not sure how much energy I have left for this post, but here goes. I want to make the effort because I am always so frustrated about my inability to capture the difficulty and complexity of legal analysis, which leads to the importance of selecting an Orlando personal injury attorney who will go the extra mile and then some.
Can A Nonsettling Defendant Discover The Contents Of A Confidential Settlement Agreement Between The Plaintiff And A Settling Defendant?
Today’s topic involved whether one non-settling defendant in a personal injury (wrongful death) suit should be able to learn the contents of a confidential settlement agreement between the plaintiff and a settling defendant. The nonsettling defendants have moved to require the plaintiff to disclose the terms of the settlement agreement. Putting the law aside, their strategic reasons for wanting to know the amount of the settlement is that they do not want to pay more than their fair share of what they perceive the case to be worth. I was researching the law of a different state, but the general idea of the importance of extraordinarily careful legal and factual research applies in all cases in every state.
I Cannot Tell You The Answer, At Least Not Now
Unfortunately, I cannot explain the lengthy and complicated answer to the above question on my site, at least not now. The reason brings me to a tangential point, which is that attorneys have to be exceedingly careful about what they write on their websites, particularly about pending projects. We have all sorts of constraints on our behavior by innumerable rules, which govern nearly every move we make. Also, regarding this particular issue, the court has not yet ruled on the motion, so I would never publish something that opposing c0unsel could read and then share with the court. Just trust me. The issue, like all others, is mind-bogglingly complicated, so much that I’m still researching two days later (actually my research continues throughout most cases, which can last years, with individual issues intertwining with others). If you would like the answer to the above-question, then you will have to hire me.
A Slice Of My Ongoing Saga
I would estimate that I probably read 50 personal injury cases yesterday, ranging in length from 5 to 20 pages each. Here was one tiny excerpt from a case that I deemed irrelevant to our issue. I saved the excerpt only because I thought it was a good example of the layers and layers of confusing reading that Orlando personal injury attorneys must sort through on a regular basis:
“Under the pro tanto rule, when a plaintiff receives a settlement from one defendant, a nonsettling defendant is entitled to a credit of the settlement amount against any judgment obtained by the plaintiff against the nonsettling defendant as long as both the settlement and judgment represent common damages. The algebraic formula for this rule is (S – X) + (N + X) = T where T equals the total amount of damages determined at trial; S equals the relative culpability of settling parties; N equals the relative culpability of nonsettling parties; X equals the amount of money settlors were culpable for, but did not have to pay due to settlement. Therefore, if X is equal to or greater than $ 1, then nonsettlors must pay more than they are relatively culpable for under the pro tanto rule and are barred from recourse from settling parties. Nonsettling parties still retain a right of contribution as to one another.”
Clear as mud? Actually the first few sentences give hope of clarity, only to morph into the last couple of sentences, which would require further research to fully understand how judges have further interpreted the above rule. So the law is basically a never-ending stream of explanations that require further explanations, clarifications, exceptions, and the like. And these judicial opinions are written by humans, so despite their ongoing valiant attempts to synchronize and harmonize, there are always loads of contradictions in various case “rules,” which leads to further distinctions, exceptions, and arguments. Basically good lawyers make a habit of regularly filtering through boat loads of highly technical gibberish looking for the one or many smoking gun arguments that lead their client to victory.
Take Home Message
The moral of the story is choose your Orlando personal injury attorney wisely. Someone who does not do their homework will not do your case justice.Share