January 2021 Newsletter – Clear Your Litigation Docket with a Comprehensive Litigation Review from RR&A

By: Ray Hafner

Executive Summary

It’s far too easy to let unpleasant litigation sit ignored or allow outside counsel to run a strategy that is not aligned with your goals or mission.  RR&A can review your litigation docket and find cost-savings by identifying situations where someone else is financially responsible, where the matter is ripe for resolution, the rates are out of proportion to the case, or the litigation is poorly or inactively managed.

One of the services R. Reese & Associates offers to new clients is a review of all open litigation matters and potential litigation matters.  Over the years, we have identified four major categories of cases and helped small and mid-sized companies lower or completely stop spending on outside litigation counsel.  This frees up capital and time, so that the business can focus activities that generate revenue.  RR&A can then actively manage litigation to prevent these issues from happening again.

Litigation is an unfortunate cost of doing business. Any company that is growing or active will eventually find itself facing a lawsuit.  E&P companies, in particular, are regular targets of litigation because they work with so many different stakeholders, such as land and royalty owners, joint-venture partners, vendors, and even their employees.  Litigation is both unpleasant and often takes a year or more to resolve.  It is no surprise then that companies tend to let their lawsuits sit on the back burner, paying little attention until they suddenly spring to life and consume executive attention and resources. 

Whenever we start to take on a new client, RR&A offers a comprehensive review of the client’s entire litigation docket.  Where a client has multiple lawsuits pending, we have been able to identify cost-savings or reach a quick resolution of multiple matters nearly every time.  The issues we most frequently identify are: 

  • Insurance coverage exists or indemnification owed (33%)
  • Cases ripe for resolution or settlement (50%)
  • Rates are too high and out of proportion for matter (10%)
  • Case stagnation and overbilling (25%)
Litigation Management

Most frequent identified issues: Insurance coverage exists or indemnification owed (33%), Cases ripe for resolution or settlement (50%), Rates are too high and out of proportion for matter (10%), Case stagnation and overbilling (25%)

Get Someone Else To Pay

Every business has, or should have, a comprehensive commercial general liability policy as well as other policies specific to their business.  The actual policy documents are hundreds of pages long and it may be unclear exactly what is covered.  By carefully reviewing the policy and the claims in the lawsuit, RR&A is often able to identify coverage that requires the insurer to pay for defense costs or liability.

All companies are party to dozens or hundreds of contracts on a regular basis.  Many contracts include indemnification provisions granting our clients the right to demand the counterparty pay for certain claims.  When a claim arises, it is easy to forget to go back and check the related agreements to see whether an indemnification is owed.

In one-third of our litigation reviews, we identified lawsuits where someone other than the client should be funding the defense, the settlement value of the claim, or both.  If you think you have a lawsuit that may be covered by insurance or indemnification, click here to contact RR&A.

Why Are You Fighting this Lawsuit?

More than half the time, our litigation review identifies cases that are ripe for resolution.  They should either have been settled at the outset, or some development has made a fair resolution possible.  At the start of litigation, tempers can run high and both sides may decide to fight it out.  But when that case is still going a year later, and the legal fees have started to add up, we often find the mood has changed.  What may have been a principled stance no longer seems relevant.

Other times, a change in circumstances means the economic decision to fight litigation no longer makes sense.  Our E&P clients regularly change their focus.  Maybe a high-producing well no longer produces.  Perhaps the plaintiff’s situation has changed, making them amenable to a much lower settlement amount.  Other times, it becomes clear that a defendant has a losing position.

Regularly asking how each piece of litigation fits into the client’s business objectives is essential, and one of the things RR&A does for its clients on a regular basis.  If you think it’s time to end a lawsuit, click here to contact RR&A.

The Rates Are Too Damn High

Hourly rates for competent counsel can range from $200 an hour to $2,000 dollars an hour.  If the stakes involve the entire future of the company, then money is no object.  For a run-of-the-mill slip and fall, no one should pay top dollar for a case any litigator can defend.

How important a particular lawsuit is to a company often changes over time.  What may have seemed like a crisis at the outset of a lawsuit can later seem trivial.  In every review, RR&A asks whether the right attorney, at the right rate, is handling the right matter.

A Lack of Supervision

No one enjoys litigation – sometimes not even the lawyers.  It is far too easy to ignore a matter once outside counsel has taken over.  But out-of-sight, out-of-mind can result in a lot more out of your pocketbook. 

Once RR&A completes its initial litigation review, we offer to take over the litigation management process.  Managing litigation is one of our core competencies, and our reviews identified cases needing closer supervision approximately one-quarter of the time.  In this role, RR&A can supervise outside counsel to make sure they are taking a defensible approach, are taking the right amount of time, and are not wasting fees and time on unnecessary or irrelevant motions.  We can also scrutinize the invoices to ensure they are reasonable and necessary.  For our clients, it is like having a full-time, in-house lawyer managing the matter.  Perhaps the biggest benefit for executives is keeping the ticky-tack stuff off their desks and knowing when their input is required.

Summary

Litigation is expensive and time-consuming.  RR&A reviews your entire docket and identifies the cases where smart changes in approach can significantly reduce legal costs.  If you would like RR&A to take a close look at your litigation, please give us a call today.

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