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The Economics of Litigation are Thin

Yesterday, David Tierney and I had a Zoom meeting with a family we represent in an FTCA medical malpractice case. The end of life care received by their veteran father was atrocious.

The VA healthcare providers actually admitted serious deficiencies. It’s in the records.

We filed a claim. The VA eventually made a “final” offer to settle, $25,000.

The case doesn’t have huge value. We’re realistic. We’ve been at this a long time. Still, this number was ridiculous.

At this point, the choice is either to accept the insulting offer or file suit.

The economics of litigation are thin. Yet, both for these clients and our other veteran clients, we need to challenge the VA when it takes utterly unfair positions like this.

As long as we have been doing FTCA cases, when we consider litigation, we have always made a point of meeting clients face-to-face before we make the final decision. We’ve made long trips to do so - to the West Coast and towns in remote areas everywhere.

Our meeting with these clients was done remotely. The family was sitting on the porch of their home. It went fine. It was okay.

However, looking at people on your computer screen is not the equivalent to being in the same room. It’s just not.

A Zoom meeting is hugely more efficient. That’s obvious. There is a savings for the client, no travel costs. It’s easier on the lawyers. Travel can be wearing.

But you miss something not actually being with people. Over the years, I’ve shared meals with clients, played with their children, admired their pets and looked at their family pictures.

Often, you make a real connection during these visits. That doesn’t happen on Zoom or Webex.

Something is lost.

We’re going to file this suit. It’s the right thing to do.

Doing so means we will likely get the opportunity meet with this family later in the process. Still, a big part of me wishes I had been sitting on that porch yesterday.

Technology has its virtues. We have no option but to embrace these changes. It’s worth noting, however, that advances - no matter how beneficial - always have a cost.

That cost was quite clear to me yesterday.


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