Why Settle When I’m Winning?

Ever heard of a hollow victory?  When a plaintiff wins his case, he may simply be receiving justice and not what he actually wanted out of the lawsuit.  Litigation costs have the potential to drain the assets of plaintiffs and defendants.  When the money runs out, then a judgment for the plaintiff can mean that the plaintiff walks away with no way to collect damages (meaning money). 

In cases like these, where a winning party won’t be able to get money from the losing party, settlement earlier rather than later should be seriously considered.  Why?  Vindication in a court of law may result in some satisfaction, but it may not result in complete victory where any award of damages and/or attorneys’ fees would be paid.

In a worst case scenario, the winning party receives a court order that they won, but the losing party has no money or assets from which to pay the judgment.  Perhaps, the loser also has the judgment discharged in bankruptcy.  Where does that leave the winner…worse off than when he started, potentially.  Why? Because now the winner has the additional burden of legal fees. 

Parties should consider whether to “cut their losses” when the threat of an un-collectable judgment is at issue.  Mediation of such claims can make the difference between being a losing winner with a pretty piece of paper from a judge or being a semi-satisfied complainant.


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