Releases, Final Judgment Orders – What’s really going on ?

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it may be necessary for the defense counsel’s ability to finally “close a file.”  As was the case with one of my former partners who did virtually all insurance defense work, this highly regarded trial lawyer did not get his last (or his paralegal staff’s) quarterly billings paid in the case until he sent the carrier the fully executed original Release no matter how hard or long he worked on the case !  

In the Landau Law Shop, when we have clients come in to sign the final papers (Release, disbursement sheet, etc.) we also have the clients sign the Final Order.  The Final Order is a short, usually 1-2 page document, that is easy to understand.  Once endorsed by the judge, the Order ends the litigation (and further costs and emotional stress to the injured clients and their family).

We do this in addition to the early signing of the “limited Power of Attorney” (“POA”) which eliminates any question of actual authority (but requires us to have the “hard conversation” earlier, rather than late, in the case, with our clients and their families as well as co-counsel, local counsel and referring counsel).  Doug Landau prefers to work out the hard parts of the case early on, rather than emulating other lawyers who “wait to the last minute” before getting their ducks in order.”  What I mean by “the hard conversation,” is, most lawyers, even experienced “Super Lawyers” and even those found in “The Best Lawyers in America” books do not know the fair value of a case the moment they meet the clients.  However, after thorough investigation and working up the file, trial lawyers who go to court get a sense of the likely jury verdict range such that they can meet with the injured plaintiffs and explain to strengths and weaknesses in the case.  In this conversation, realistic settlement values, litigation costs, trial outcomes and goals can also be discussed.  Too many lawyers never have this conversation with their injured clients.  We get calls from unhappy plaintiffs whose lawyers negotiated settlements on their behalf without their permission or understanding.  Herndon Trial Lawyer Doug Landau has also fielded calls and e–mails from panicked lawyers who are on the eve of trial, and who never seriously intended to try the case to a jury verdict, do not have “sum certain settlement authority” from their now unhappy clients, or worse, who have accepted a settlement from the Insurance Company or their Lawyers, but their client will not agree !  That is why we try to sit down with our clients and discuss the outcomes, values and expenses that can realistically be predicted in their unique, and very personal, injury claims.

As a byproduct of our goal to learn from and become more efficient by what we have already done at Abrams Landau, Ltd., we also have Releases from a number of carrier that we are able to re-use in anticipation of compromise.  Virginia Trial Lawyer Doug Landau and his litigation team often send these with our draft Final Orders.  The Landau Law Shop can then use these Court Orders signed by our clients, along with the executed (and notarized Releases) to “reverse settle” claims as advocated by AAJ supporter and structured settlement guru Rich Halperin.  (https://www.halperngroup.com)  As a member of the 70,000 member Association of Trial Lawyers of America (“ATLA”) since 1981 (now “the American Association for Justice” or “AAJ”), multi-state personal injury lawyer Landau has met with and learned from Halpern in order to continue to try to maximize the results achieved for clients with Product Liability, Negligence, Defective Products and Food, Slip and Fall, Children’s cases, Sports Accident, Brain Trauma, and other types of Personal Injury claims.  This puts the adjuster, claims manager, supervisor and/or defense lawyer in the untenable position of having to “UN-settle the case” !!!!   Just as claimants do not like to send back settlement checks, even if for less than “full value,” insurance claims personnel have a hard time sending back the papers that settle and close a file for a reasonable sum.  This strategem does the same thing the carriers try to do to us (and especially unrepresented “pro se” plaintiffs and those represented by lawyers who do not do much personal injury work) at their “settlement days.”

  Bottom line, read EVERYTHING BEFORE SIGNING, and MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SIGNING.  

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