I recently posted about Unaccountable by Mart Makary, a book about the bad behavior of doctors. One of his points is “The when-you’re-a-hammer problem plagues modern medicine at every level.” He illustrated this with a case where transplant surgeons said an otherwise-healthy person with a small liver tumor should get a liver transplant. Which struck Makary as ridiculous.
A lawyer who reads this blog sees the same thing in lawyers. He told me the following story:
One of the sixteen defendants we sued moved to transfer the venue of our case from [Southern California city] to [Northern California city]. Both plaintiffs, all of his doctors (over a dozen), all of the witnesses (again, about a dozen), and all of locations where the incident took place are in or near [N. California city]. When we got the motion I took it to my boss who said, “Huh. We should’ve filed it in [N. California city] to begin with. I don’t know why we didn’t.” It would’ve been inconvenient for us, b/c we’re in [S. California city], but we’ve filed cases up there before, so we could handle it.So, did we stipulate with the defendant and just transfer the case up north? No. We filed a pathetic, perfunctory opposition. We had an argument, but it was very weak: one of the defendants was located in [S. California city]. That’s basically all we had to hang our hat on.We filed our opposition, defendant filed their reply. We all trekked down to court to argue our positions in front of the judge. The hearing should’ve taken 30 seconds — “Defendant’s motion granted.” — but the judge actually entertained oral argument. Finally, he granted the motion.When I got back to the office, I noted to my secretary what a huge waste of time all of this was. The law was clear, virtually all of the facts were on opposing counsel’s side, we should’ve filed up north to begin with, so why fight it? Why not save everyone — us, opposing counsel, the judge and his staff — time and just agree? “Well, you gotta take a shot,” was her reply. Which is what I hear from attorneys all the time. “You gotta try, you gotta make the argument.” In other words, we have hammers so the hammers must be used no matter what.
No, it isn’t quite like a transplant surgeon who says a new liver is needed b/c of a small tumor — no one’s life or health is at risk — but how much time and resources are wasted in the legal system on bullshit like this?