ILLINOIS MECHANICS LIENS / COVID-19

Litigation

Entanglement in occasional litigation is almost inevitable. Even the most skilled and reputable designers and builders get swept up in lawsuits. Certain kinds of disputes can only be resolved in court. Serious disputes require serious litigators. Substantial courtroom experience and ability is a must for design and construction attorneys.

Advantages of Litigation

The courtroom is the best venue to resolve certain kinds of disputes. Court rules and procedures enhance due process, which protect litigants from rushed or incorrect outcomes. The principle of stare decisis – which forces judges to follow precedent set by earlier cases – promotes predictability. Court decisions are also freely appealable.  Litigation provides a number of important safeguards for important disputes.  

At times, litigation is the only option. Claims based on statutes – like mechanics liens, mortgage foreclosures, surety bond claims, lawsuits for infringement of intellectual property, and claims about the accessibility of property by disabled persons – often must be resolved through court litigation. 

Choosing litigation over Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is often the most strategic option. Taking apart your opponent’s claim with motion practice, requests for admission of fact, or early depositions is sometimes the cheapest and quickest way to resolve a case. Attorneys who practice design and construction law must always be ready to do battle in the courtroom.

Disadvantages of Litigation

Litigation also has huge drawbacks.  It is the slowest and most expensive way to resolve disputes. Arcane court procedures and rules seldom promote early, cost-efficient dispute resolution. Businesspeople want to focus on design and construction, not depositions and trials. Thus, with some exception, litigation is best viewed as a last resort. 

Nearly all design and construction disputes settle before trial. But they settle too late, after too much inconvenience and expense. Years of avoidable hassle and expense – often incurred for needless formal discovery and procedural disputes – come before disputes settle, often on the eve of trial. This is both predictable and avoidable.

Business leaders need information to make decisions. However, they do not need to know every single fact to decide whether or not to settle disputes. They need to know ‘enough’ to make smart business decisions. And litigation is the most inefficient means of information exchange ever devised. Lawyers fight each other at every step! ADR is often a more efficient way to get businesspeople the information they need. 

Litigating…Strategically

The fact is, compared to many other kinds of disputes, it is relatively easy to predict the outcome of design and construction claims. Vast disagreement about the claim’s true dollar value is often lacking. This is not true with many other claim types. Experienced design and construction counsel – chest-pounding aside – can often agree on a range of likely claim outcomes at the case outset. Usually any real uncertainty turns upon a few disputed facts or legal issues.  

Knowing this, savvy design and construction attorneys litigate intentionally. They go right at the key issues. They take the key fact depositions early. They find pressure points early and squeeze – HARD. They force opponents to confront the weakness of their positions. They use court procedures to set up early successful outcomes, often forcing favorable settlements with targeted information exchange and motion practice. And when all else fails, they win at trial.

This should be uncontroversial: lawyers who mindlessly ride waves of court procedures towards trials which are unlikely to occur – with no strategic ‘off-ramp’ in site – waste their clients’ time and money. Clients should not stand for it – not when aggressive, targeted advocacy by skilled design and construction attorneys often promotes early and favorable court outcomes.

Vast Litigation Experience

Jeremy has litigated continuously since 2002. He has successfully prosecuted and defended countless lawsuits in over 30 state and federal court venues, representing clients in far more depositions and court appearances than he can number. He spent the first 4 years of his career aggressively representing plaintiffs in dozens of lawsuits across the Midwest on a 100% contingency fee basis as an attorney at Cozen O’Connor PC. Jeremy is equally experienced defending clients from lawsuits. Thanks to his ‘big law’ experience at Schiff Hardin LLP, he served on skilled teams which litigated claims in excess of $100 million. However, Jeremy has served as first-chair litigation counsel far more times than not throughout his career.

In 2001-2002, Jeremy served in the chambers of Honorable Morey L. Sear, Chief Judge Emeritus, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, New Orleans. He assisted the late Judge Sear, a member of the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL), with the centralization of mass litigation involving air disasters, intellectual property, antitrust, products liability, securities, sales, and employment practices.  Besides MDL matters, Jeremy helped to dispose cases pending on Judge Sear’s general civil docket.

To learn more, contact Baker Law today.

Hale Boggs Federal Courthouse

The Hale Boggs Federal Building Courthouse, in New Orleans, is home of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, where Jeremy served in Judge Sear’s chambers in 2001-2002.