In employment cases, it is very difficult to not take things personally. When a person works for a company for 20 years and then gets fired because s/he comes down with some illness or because a new boss does not like minorities, then it does get personal. I know. But, once the lawsuit is filed, a plaintiff needs to step back a bit. A lawsuit requires some hard business decisions up to and including settlement. PI lawyer Philip Thomas in Mississippi reminds us that lawyers, if no one else, should not take the "take it personal route." Philip talks about a demand letter sent in a California case that came close to extortion. That is, a letter requesting early settlement in a case contained enough impied threats of legal action that it came close to extortion. See Philip Thomas’ blog post.
Ultimately, a California appeals court ruled that the demand letter by a prominent Hollywood lawyer did not amount to extortion. Close call, sort of. As lawyers, should we be sending letters that come close to extortion?
As Philip explains, too many times, a defendant dislikes the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyer so much that a lawsuit becomes a street brawl. Letters like the 2011 Marty Singer letter to a prominent defendant ("Big Brother" winner Mike Malin) help fuel those sorts of perceptions. Too, often such letters are themselves fueled by the plaintiff himself who feels strong animosity toward the defendant. Too many plaintiffs overestimate the importance of a lawsuit to the defendant. I hear that many, many times: the [company] will never let these claims go before the public.
Oh yes, they will. Many companies will allow allegations to go to the public in order to avoid the perception that XYZ company settles cases too easily.
And, as Philip says, isn’t it time for the grown-ups to step in? When a lawsuit is filed its time to behave, or attempt to behave.
And, what happened after Mr. Singer sent this threatening demand letter? Mike Malin sued the lawyer, Marty Singer, and his client, "Top Chef Canada" Judge, Shereem Arazm and alleged extortion among other claims. A day later, Mr. Arazm filed his lawsuit – without the sensational allegations promised in the initial demand letter. So, the original demand letter lead to a street brawl. And, the lawyer becomes just another street thug.