Last week, a Colorado jury handed down a more than $2 million verdict against a Denver law firm for pressuring a client, in a contingency fee case, to settle for less than it was worth.
In her lawsuit, the client portrayed the firm as a “settlement mill,” in which the attorneys in internal e-mails referred to her and her husband as “toothless cooties.” The client contended, among other things, that the firm “pressured” her to settle rather than go to trial. The firm disputed many of the client’s claims, insisting it was the client’s decision to settle, citing “buyer’s remorse” that lead to the lawsuit. The firm suggested the settlement was favorable to the client because there was evidence the client’s injuries may have pre-existed the car accident.
The issue of settlement comes up in virtually every case that is in or bound for litigation. In many cases, the attorney places some degree of pressure on the client to settle. There can be several reasons for this, including the attorney’s own financial stake in contingency fee cases, or the attorney’s fear in going to trial for lack of experience, among others.
The question each legal consumer, individual or corporate, needs to ask themselves when faced with pressure from the attorney to settle is:
Is the attorney pushing settlement in my best interests . . . or their own?
In an upcoming Tip, LPR will suggest ways legal consumers can better equip themselves to evaluate settlement issues, even from inside the pressure cooker.
You’ve got options. The Center for Legal Practice Reform can help you navigate the attorney/client relationship and level the playing field. Call LPR today for a free consultation – (301) 351-7970.
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