I Have Been Sued! How Much Will My Defense Cost?


Eric Hartnett

by Eric Hartnett on November 5, 2010

in Civil Litigation Defense

Since I have been named as defendant, how much will it cost to defend this lawsuit?

When the initial lawyer/client interview takes place our clients have a lot of questions, but sooner or later the discussion turns to the cost for their lawsuit.

The cost of a case varies greatly.  There is no magic formula to predict this and, unfortunately the answer is “it depends.”  There are numerous factors that contribute to the costs associated with resolving a case.  One factor is the complexity of the lawsuit filed against them.  For example, if there are other defendants, those defendants will attempt to satisfy their interests as well.  This tends to lead to more discovery (depositions and written discovery) and longer mediation sessions occurring.  Naturally, as more work is done, costs increase.

The litigious nature of other parties is another factor.  If Plaintiff decides to utilize every legal maneuver possible to increase the costs of taking your case to trial, then your costs will rise.  There are ways to combat such a litigant such as filing a California Code of Civil Procedure Section 128.7 Motion or a motion seeking a Protective Order.  In our practice, we successfully fight these types of litigants through these tools.  For example, we have filed C.C.P. 128.7 motions that have led to the resolution of lawsuits in Alameda County, Amador County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and San Joaquin County.  Similarly, threatening to file a C.C.P. 128.7 Motion has led to positive results for our clients in San Mateo County, Marin County, and San Francisco County.

Yet another factor is the opposing counsel.  This factor is very apparent during discovery, which can be the most expensive part of a case.  If Plaintiff’s counsel refuses to comply with the Civil Discovery Act and we are forced to bring motions compelling conduct, then your costs will increase as a result of filing these motions.  However, we have a strong success rate at recouping attorneys’ fees when we bring these types of motions.

We have found that when someone is prosecuting the case without an attorney (in pro per) that those cases can be the most expensive ones.  The pro per will either not know or ignore Court rules and this failure to comply with Court rules typically necessitates substantially more law and motion work.  This is especially true in wrongful foreclosure lawsuits where Plaintiff has cut and pasted a form complaint found online.

Despite these variables, when we meet with you we should be able to provide you with rough estimates for the different stages of your lawsuit, such as the cost to respond to Plaintiff’s Complaint, expunge a Lis Pendens, or conduct discovery.

Please also note that for the purposes of this article costs includes both incidental fees (filling fees, process serving fees, etc.) and attorneys’ fees.  The above-listed factors mainly affect the cost of your case by influencing how many attorneys’ hours are required to accomplish your goal and thereby altering the amount of attorneys’ fees accumulated.

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