Excess litigation is often the most challenging, yet most rewarding, litigation to which a trial lawyer is ever exposed. It requires a well-trained and well-seasoned attorney group as it is not unusual for a case to be assigned when a trial date is imminent. When there are two months until the trial on a case which the primary firm has evaluated at $15 million, there is no time to train partners, attorneys, legal assistants, or even the office assistant. Everyone must already know his or her job well. Production has to be flawless as if it has been practiced hundreds of times, when in reality there has been no time for practice at all. However, perhaps the hardest ingredient to find is a qualified firm that has the available manpower to take on the $15 million exposure case and go to trial as lead attorneys in two months or less.
Our firm does not cringe with such an assignment--we relish it. Due to the quantity of Excess work we do throughout the year, we plan ahead in our hiring and training to ensure we have the necessary capacity available for the 11th hour call. Our partners who lead the files are well seasoned trial lawyers who are no strangers to the court room. They are poised and ready to go at a moment's notice. Our firm has adapted all of its case file handling and procedures to operate as if each file were an Excess case. For example, we use Casemap extensively to coordinate every case now and not just for the Excess case.
Plaintiff attorneys in Oklahoma often wince when we come into a file. They know the best defense case possible is quickly being amassed in our offices and that our trial lawyers are fearless about walking into the courtroom. It is not unusual for the case to settle for less than previous offers once we have entered the lawsuit.
The case mentioned above that came into our office exposed to $15 million with just weeks to go to trial settled on the eve of trial for just a fraction of primary carriers' low limit. Our excess carriers did not pay a penny. It is amazing what a well prepared and artful examination on video of the plaintiff's key witness can do to utterly destroy what looked like the perfect plaintiff case. After saving the carriers $15 million, no one questions the brains, moxie, or ability of this firm to go head-to-head with anyone in the country.