Court Called Judicial Hellhole; Defenders Blast Complaints

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Kirk Johnson

Terri Beiner, who teaches civil procedure at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, said she would expect the class certification process to be completed within a year. But the process could take longer, she said.

“It depends on how complex the case is,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a little discovery to find the facts you need in order to make the motion, but it is something that happens pretty early on.”

Crushing Discovery

When the Foremost Insurance Co. was sued by the Keil & Goodson and Nix Patterson firms in 2004, Foremost felt the weight of the crushing discovery.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers demanded files dating back to 1996, according to a 2007 article in the Southeast Texas Record, a legal journal.

Judge Johnson granted the request, even though Foremost’s attorney, Richard Griffin of Houston, said it would cost $45 million to produce the more than 600,000 claim files the plaintiffs wanted, the article said. Instead, the company decided to settle.

Griffin told Arkansas Business the company decided to settle because of the discovery fees the company was facing. He couldn’t recall the settlement amount.

“The company decided that it was in its best interest to get a national class-action settlement and continue doing business,” Griffin said. “It was a business decision.”

Companies that don’t settle should brace themselves to spend millions.

To meet a discovery request by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Farmers Insurance Co. devoted 28,631 man-hours to produce the 55 million pages of claim files at a cost of more than $9 million in 2011. That case was filed in 2004 and it’s unclear if it was ever certified as a class-action. A spokesman for Farmers told Arkansas Business in an email that the case was pending and declined to comment further.

“It is inconceivable that a federal district court would have permitted such abusive” discovery, Rogers, 21st Century’s attorney, said in his brief.




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