As indicated by its name, complex litigation is a term used to describe a category of lawsuits that involve legal and factual issues that are more complex than most lawsuits. Complex litigation may require more involvement from judicial parties in order to maintain organization, effectiveness, and timeliness in preparing for and hearing a case. Likewise, complex litigation poses additional responsibilities and expectations of involved attorneys.
What Is Complex Litigation?
Complex litigation is more demanding than other forms of litigation. Complex litigation often involves significantly higher costs, quality of information and evidence, and duration of proceedings. Due to the increased need for information and resources, many involved parties must allot extra time and effort toward establishing and maintaining effective communication between a number of parties.
Complex litigation may involve one or more of a number of complex issues, such as:
- Large numbers of potential witnesses and deponents, or those who make a deposition
- Large numbers of documents which must be produced, reviewed, and synthesized
- Large data quantities or complex calculations
- Unusual time pressures from opponents, judges, or client imperatives
- The need for presentation, defense, or cross-examining in highly technical, complex, or proprietary subject areas
- The need for presentation of information by using unusually sophisticated or advanced technology, software, or resources
- More complex litigation procedures, such as class actions, mass torts, and multidistrict litigation
Examples of Complex Litigation
Examples of complex litigation cases may include:
- Intellectual property disputes
- Property liability cases
- Professional negligence cases
- Antitrust cases
- Unfair competition cases
- Franchisor/franchisee disputes
- Consumer and securities fraud cases
- Employment discrimination
Types of Complex Litigation
Complex litigation can occur in a number of forms. Mass torts and class actions are two common forms of complex litigation. These types of litigation procedures are characteristically more complex. This is due in part to the large number of plaintiffs and their potential dispersal of geographic location. Additionally, these cases require the processing of large amounts of data and communication between large numbers of participants. It is important to note that not all mass torts and class actions are considered complex litigation.
Mass Tort Complex Litigation
Mass torts involve a large group of plaintiffs who sustain the same or similar injuries as a result of the company responsible for the product which caused harm. Mass torts exist to represent numerous plaintiffs at once. This helps to minimize costs, resources, time, and conflicting judgments which may occur if all cases were processed separately. In a mass tort, the procedure is the same, but each plaintiff receives a unique decision based on the circumstances of each case.
Class Action Complex Litigation
Class actions are similar in nature to mass torts. These cases also involve the aggregation of several plaintiffs who allege similar legal claims against the same defending party. The main difference between a class action and a mass tort is that class actions end with a single decision which applies to all participants.
This decision is typically based on one plaintiff’s specific case, which is deemed to be an accurate representation of the primary issues at hand. This plaintiff acts as a representative for the class, or other plaintiffs. The representative’s case undergoes trial. If the plaintiff wins the case, any damages awarded to the plaintiff are typically divided amongst all members of the class action.
Hiring an Orlando Complex Litigation Attorney
It is crucial that parties involved in complex litigation obtain the representation of a knowledgeable, experienced complex litigation attorney. A number of attorneys who focus in other areas of law may not possess the skills and resources necessary to conduct thorough, timely, and effective complex litigation.
When seeking a complex litigation lawyer, plaintiffs should ensure that the potential candidate has specific experience in the area of law in which the case is categorized. During the process of selecting a potential complex litigation lawyer, the plaintiff should ask questions about each candidate’s experience and case results. Selecting a complex litigation attorney with a proven record of relevant knowledge and experience significantly increases the likelihood of a positive complex litigation.
Cavanagh, Edward D. “Issue Preclusion in Complex Litigation.” Review of Litigation 29.4 (2010): 859-894. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.
Lowe, John C. “Making complex litigation clear.” Trial Apr. 1997: 46+. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.
“Task force to study complex litigation issues.” Florida Bar News 1 Oct. 2006: 20. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.