Update (12/1/2015): Sometimes obstructionist lawyering (described in the post below) is ultimately explained by litigants who have no real defenses, who cannot bring themselves admit it, and so their lawyers pepper the other side with duds, fire-crackers, snow balls, or whatever other harmless silliness they can get their hands on. The simple goal: to buy their clients a day or two, a week or two, or, sadly, in some cases, a year or two…On the other hand, sometimes a defendant businesses (or individuals) are brought to their knees (or worse) because even defending against bogus claims can destroy livelihoods… We cannot know which model best suits the Best Buy/JACO case but it looks like JACO is not long for this world….
Original post (November 23, 2015): I have no doubt that long-time Minnesota Litigator readers (HI MOM!) will cry out loud in excitement at a the arrival of a new TAAFOMFT, an acronym for “These are a few of my favorite things,” highlighting my favorite things about civil litigation (NOT).
It has been a while since my last TAAFOMFT post; these posts are reserved for the most meaningful, intellectually stimulating parts of my professional life: vehement arguments over what “thirty days” means or defending against an adversary’s claims that are truly without merit and having to explain to my client why this could cost my client tens of thousands of dollars. (This conversation grows funner as I go on to explain that the client still might lose the case though the adversary’s arguments have no merit because lawyers can very rarely eliminate downside risk–or guaranty upside reward–entirely, and more fun still when I say that although we may win everything the court will not award any attorneys’ fees.)
Another of my favorite things: in civil litigation plaintiffs must meet a fairly rigorous standard in drafting a complaint to bring a lawsuit (defense lawyers will disagree, to be sure). Too often, defendants respond to plaintiffs’ complaints with a so-called “answers” that provide no answers at all.
This is best understood with an example. The Minnesota titan tech/appliance retailer Best Buy had a deal where Best Buy store visitors could all dump old unwanted appliances (“junk”) at Best Buy locations. Best Buy turned around and entered into contracts with other businesses (one called “JACO”) to take the junk away. Businesses like JACO would pay Best Buy for the opportunity to truck away the junk because, of course, there is always resale value and/or scrap value in most of that so-called “junk.”
JACO entered into such a contract and allegedly stopped paying Best Buy under their “Hauling and Recycling Services Agreement.” So Best Buy sued JACO, alleging that JACO failed to pay Best Buy the money owed.
Normal humans might respond to a complaint like this in a number of ways, like, “I already paid you all that you are owed,” “You failed to hold up your side of the bargain,” “We have no money,” “You tricked us into a bad contract,” “You sued the wrong company,” “It’s too late for you to make that claim,” etc. etc. etc. Not so, in U.S. civil litigation.