Thursday, March 25, 2010


I HATE HATE HATE answering complaints.

You would think that answering a complaint wouldn't be too difficult and that it might even be fun. I mean, the only possible responses are some variation of: "Admit," "Deny" or "lacks information sufficient to form a belief." But seriously, each little paragraph that I have to provide an answer to causes me physically painful ethical anguish. That was a mouthful- did you get all that?

The last Answer I prepared was for a automobile collision. Liability was pretty straightforward. Our client => bad => crash. Simple, right? But in law, nothing can be that simple.

The complaint stated an allegation similar to this:
"Defendant did X and struck Plaintiff's vehicle."

Considering the fact that there exists a statement made by our client suggesting that he was totally at fault, I want to answer by saying: "Admit that our client did X and was a total douche bag."

Considering that I represent the Defendant's interests (when you are not a partner, you take your clients as they are in all their douchebaggery), I have to answer something like this: "Deny."

I feel a little unsettled about this. I feel like it's a violation of CR 11. However, everyone assures me that there has never been a case where a lawyer got into trouble for denying something he maybe should have admitted in an answer. In fact, trouble usually only arises when a lawyer admits something he probably should have denied. This is what They tell me anyway. Since They are lawyers, well experienced in litigation, I will believe Them.

But just to be on the overly ethical side, I have elected to answer something like this:
"Admit that client did X but deny any and all inferences of liability."

Sounds like an oxymoron right? So I can admit that Defendant did something which he states that he did, but the other side cannot use this omission at trial to prove liability. They told me this little tip. I LOVE it.

And so does my conscience.


gudnuff said...

So is that the same as saying, yeah he did it, but don't blame him? Don't hold him accountable? He did it, but he's not responsible for doing it.
Does intent matter here?
Fascinating. Because this little point comes up in my marriage quite a bit, believe it or not.
What's the relevance between this argument to the question of intent versus premeditation?

gudnuff said...

Relevance of...not between...

Cee said...

well an answer is all about what can you ethically deny so that the otherside has to PROVE their case. And since the answer comes so early in litigation, before discovery and everthing, you never know what you will discover later on and you don't want to destroy your case by admitting something and then you later discover that let's say, the plaintiff was drunk at the time or the cruise control on your client's vehicle was defective. you just admit or deny certain facts and allegations- a delicate dance. So I can admit that the client was speeding but still that doesn't mean he CAUSED the accident (of course, it is more likely).