Embarking in litigation is a serious undertaking that should not be taken lightly. Plaintiff litigation requires a lot of time, money, and resources (including personal injury case management software). Not to mention, it can be very stressful for plaintiffs, especially for those involved in high-stakes litigation. These types of cases can cause a lot of stress for those involved due to the type of claims being asserted, the length of time to litigate, the possible amount of money damages, or the types of harm that have been caused.
What is plaintiff-side litigation?
For readers who aren’t familiar, plaintiff-side litigation is a person who initiates a lawsuit. A plaintiff is a person who files the litigation in a civil case. They may hire an attorney for legal representation for them or represent themselves (“pro se”). The other party is called the defendant, and they have to defend the claims brought against them. Attorneys specializing in this type of plaintiff litigation are referred to as the “plaintiff’s attorney.”
They handle the plaintiff’s case during all stages of litigation, from the commencement of the action to discovery to motions hearings to mediation to trial. Many law firms and attorneys focus only on plaintiff-side cases because they specialize in bringing certain types of claims on behalf of their clients against defendants, such as personal injury or medical malpractice.
What is high-stakes plaintiff litigation?
While there is no legal definition for high-stakes litigation, in the sector, it is generally referred to as litigation involving a substantial amount of money; someone is likely to lose or obtain an advantage or a core issue that parties need to resolve. Often, these cases present novel questions of law or fact that a judge will need to determine through briefing and court hearings. Many of these cases can be settled through mediation or arbitration. They may also proceed through the entire plaintiff litigation process to be decided at a bench or jury trial, depending on the type of claim.
Also, when many plaintiffs are combined in the same litigation, the money award can be much higher for all the plaintiffs than for a case with only one plaintiff. For example, a high-profile trial in 2018 involving Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to 22 plaintiffs impacted by their asbestos-contaminated talcum baby powder.
In some cases, one plaintiff in high-stakes plaintiff litigation may become the lead plaintiff when other plaintiffs are added to the lawsuit. When this occurs, it is referred to as consolidating cases. These cases can involve different plaintiffs across multiple jurisdictions who all have a common issue, referred to as multidistrict litigation (MDL), that are transferred to be heard in one court. Additionally, a plaintiff’s high-stakes litigation may be involved in what’s called a “bellwether trial.” Courts have often relied on bellwether trials to resolve large numbers of similar lawsuits.
To test these cases for a jury trial, a handful of plaintiffs’ cases are selected by a committee of plaintiff and defense lawyers to advance the litigation. After the trial is over, the information gathered is used to resolve the remaining cases. Often, these cases involve high-profile claims, from mass tort to product liability. Recently, a bellwether trial was conducted to determine the scope of liability and damages for opioid drug manufacturers and distributors in New York State and Ohio. Another one is underway for Juul Labs, Inc. regarding their electronic cigarettes.
Some attorneys may offer plaintiffs to work on a contingency fee, which means the law firm absorbs the cost of their legal services and litigation expenses until and if they are successful. Usually, a money damage award is issued to compensate the plaintiffs and the trial lawyers who worked on the case. This contingency fee is usually between 20% and 40% of the recovery amount. All contingency fees agreements must be in writing and signed by the client.
One significant upside of the contingency fee arrangement is that plaintiffs, who otherwise couldn’t afford an attorney, let alone several of them, are able to work with a first-class team of lawyers and support staff on their high-stakes litigation. If the case is not taken on a contingency fee arrangement, then the plaintiff(s) will need to pay legal fees and other costs as the case progresses. These fees can add up—litigation can become extremely expensive very quickly!
What are the types of high-stakes civil litigation plaintiff lawsuit?
High-stakes litigation can involve different types of lawsuits. Some types of litigation include bringing white-collar claims under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Lanham Act (trademark violation), trade secrets, and class actions involving a whole host of claims, such as securities, consumer, or investment fraud.
Other high-stakes litigation can include tort claims, including toxic torts, fraud and misrepresentation, wrongful death, product liability, and catastrophic injury, to name a few examples. Business disputes can also be high-stakes litigation, which may involve claims of fiduciary duty, intellectual property, non-compete, real estate, professional liability, insurance coverage, tax, and partnership disputes. Often, these cases are worth millions of dollars in potential damages.
High-stakes lawsuits can be very lucrative cases for both plaintiffs and their lawyers. Before embarking on high-stakes litigation, a plaintiff will need to do their homework to find the best attorney to meet their needs.
If you are a personal injury lawyer specializing in high stake plaintiff litigation you should have a modern case management software like CloudLex – an all-in-one personal injury case management software that provides a bevy of other applications like matter management software, client intake management, law firm communication management, legal document management, and many more. To know more, request a demo of our platform