PROBLEMS AND HOW WE SOLVE THEM
"What are the stages of a case and how long can they take?"
Lawsuits can be time-consuming, whether you are the one suing or the one being sued. Generally, the more issues sorted out before trial, the shorter the trial proceedings will be - and we understand time is money. A case may go through a number of stages before reaching a resolution, depending on the needs of the parties involved. Let us help you save time and money on your lawsuit - call our Sioux City, Sioux Falls or Omaha office today!
"We are in a dispute and our C-Level executives cannot agree on how we should resolve the matter. What should we do?"
You should engage Goosmann Law when the dispute begins, before a lawsuit is filed. Get the protection you need. Internal emails you create regarding the dispute may later be discoverable. Letters or emails you send to the other side may come back to bite you. Goosmann lawyers know how to minimize risk, create a strategy to accomplish your goals, and protect you from the unknown. It’s crucial to preserve all evidence and not create bad evidence in the event the matter is not resolved, escalates, and ends up in a trial. An early fact investigation may also reveal claims and monetary damages you did not know you had rights to under the law. Know your rights by working with Goosmann Law early in the process.
“I just got sued. What do I do?”
Imagine your business has just been sued or needs to file a lawsuit in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota or North Dakota. You’re probably thinking, “What do I do?” “How do I find the right trial attorney?” “How can this case be resolved quickly and in my favor?” Our trial lawyers have the grit your case needs. We listen to our clients and help them navigate complex issues to achieve their goals. Our team takes care of your lawsuit so you can keep running your business and focus on what’s worth it in your life rather than spending time stressing about a lawsuit.
How are cases resolved?
While we relish the fact that we can stand before a jury and tell your story, we realize that most cases are resolved at the bargaining table. The difference between winning and losing often comes down to our ability to negotiate an agreement on terms that benefit our clients. Our willingness to take a case all the way through a jury trial can often help our clients obtain beneficial settlements. We use our aggressive negotiation skills to obtain favorable settlements. We play long ball, short ball, soft ball and hard ball to achieve your goals.
How do you handle discovery?
In discovery, both sides are exchanging documents, taking depositions, answering interrogatories, and responding to requests for admissions and requests for production of documents. We craft a strategic discovery plan with the budget in mind, using technology and our client’s resources to keep the process in check. In larger cases involving voluminous documents, we utilize the e-discovery process to identify key documents to be used in depositions, motions and trial.
Beyond traditional discovery that you will find in state and federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Goosmann Law also prides itself in the use of informal discovery tactics. We call witnesses, interview people that may have information, locate former employees, contact neighbors, scope out the field, stop the garbage truck and collect evidence – we get dirty and we like it. Many cases are won with the facts uncovered through our own investigation, not the documents opposing counsel passes across the table.
How do you decide what motions to file?
There are endless motions that can be filed in a lawsuit. Goosmann Law files motions which are necessary to advance our strategy and help our clients achieve their goals. Before we file a motion, we evaluate its likelihood of success, the cost and expense, and the risks. Then we discuss our analysis and make a clear recommendation to our clients. Whether we file a Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Stay, Motion to Continue, or Motion for Summary Judgment, we recognize the impact those motions can have in the case and make sure you do as well. Early on in a lawsuit, we anticipate motions we will file as part of our strategy and build support for them before they are drafted or filed. Before we take depositions and ask for documents in discovery, we anticipate the motions we will need to file and have read the jury instructions so we know what we need to prove our case. We also establish our trial themes early so that we can build momentum, apply pressure, and be your zealous and tenacious lawyers in the courtroom.
What happens in trial when somebody objects?
An objection is raised in court by an attorney regarding a specific question or evidence that is produced at trial. Generally, objections need to be made on specific grounds and are used by attorneys when they want something to be disallowed from the trial altogether. This may be something that is considered misleading, argumentative, speculation or had already been answered previously in the trial. A judge can rule one of two ways when an objection is stated, he or she can either overrule the objection or sustain it. When an objection is overruled, the evidence is accepted and is then admitted into court. If an objection is sustained, the lawyer must address the issue of the objection to ensure that the jury only hears evidence that has been properly admitted.
What is a closing argument?
A closing argument is provided after all factual evidence in the case is provided and is used as a tool to persuade the jury about evidence significance. Closing arguments pose an opportunity for both parties to remind jurors of the evidence provided and how it pertains to their side of the case. This may include commenting on credible witnesses and providing reasons as to why jurors should decide in their favor.
Who will be the witnesses in my case?
A trial court cannot function without the participation of witnesses. A witness is an individual who has information regarding a specific case and provides this evidence to the court. Those who witnessed an influential part of the case regarding the dispute are often times required to testify during these court proceedings by way of a subpoena. Witnesses should be chosen on the basis of their involvement with the case and how their testimony may affect its outcome.
What is ESI (Electronically Stored Information)?
Electronically stored information (“ESI”) is data in digital form that can be altered and stored. In 2006, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were revised such that the parties to a lawsuit may legally request electronically stored information stored in any medium or format. ESI refers to any and all information that can be stored in computers, storage devices or phones, and may include voicemails, photographs, text messages, and recordings. It can also include social media information as discussed above.
What is Mediation? What is Arbitration?
Mediation is an informal process used to settle cases before trial. When the parties agree to mediate, they agree to hire a “mediator,” who is typically a veteran attorney or retired judge, to help them try to settle their lawsuit. The mediator typically meets with the parties together, then meets with the parties privately to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ respectively positions, and tries to get the parties to make settlement demands and counter-offers back and forth with the ultimate goal of reaching a settlement. If the parties cannot reach a settlement, the mediation ends. The mediator cannot force the parties to settle their dispute. Generally, mediation is a voluntary process.
Arbitration, on the other hand, is much more formal and binding. The process of arbitration requires a dispute to be submitted, by agreement of the parties, to a binding decisionmaker, the arbitrator. The arbitrator listens to witnesses testify and considers evidence much like a judge or jury, and then renders a written decision. The case is resolved by an arbitrator in a confidential forum, but the arbitrator’s decision can be filed with a Court and converted into a formal judgment against the losing party. Goosmann Law’s litigation attorneys mediate and arbitrate cases routinely.
When are cases taken to the court of appeals?
The majority of decisions made in state and federal trial court are subject to review by an appeals court. An appellate court hears cases on appeal from another court depending on the circumstance. The job of an appellate court is to review the proceedings of the trial for any errors and they may reverse decisions if they see fit. The lawyers for both parties will then submit a brief that will determine whether or not they will be allowed to give an oral argument regarding the decision of the court. Once an appellate court decision has been made, the opportunity for further appeal is limited.
How do you prepare for oral argument?
A good oral argument requires a deep understanding of the law and the facts of the particular case and you’re in luck. We put in the effort to know your case as well as possible, preparing us for whatever questions the court would have in oral argument. Our team of attorneys has a countless amount of experience in trial court and we will work with you to make sure that your goals are met. We will come prepared with an effective argument with the intent to win your case.
One of my customers has not paid me. Do I sue them?
Before you choose to sue, there are a few steps that you should take before you decide. First assess your own performance and ask yourself if you carried out services properly or if your client had any concerns about your performance. Secondly, see if matters can be settled outside of the courtroom; it may be possible to reach fair compensation this way. Also, consider the costs. Lastly, consider the consequences of a law suit. If following these steps does not result in payment, contact one of our attorneys as it may be time to sue.
Suing a customer for non-payment is an option and is relatively simple to implement. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of smalls claims court as a resource as this state court resolves disputes involving smaller amounts of money. A small claims court judgement ultimately holds the same weight as any other judgement made in a state court and is effective as a collection technique. However, the smalls claims court in your state may place a limit on the amount a plaintiff can sue for and they may limit the number of suits that can be filed per year. Let us help you to retrieve the money that you are owed, call a Goosmann attorney today.
How do you decide when and where to sue and for what?
Goosmann lawyers put a lot of experience and analysis to work to determine the most beneficial venue and jurisdiction for your dispute. The jury verdict history, historical rulings by judges in similar cases, and the convenience of the forum are just some of the issues Goosmann Law evaluates. If we determine your case is best filed outside of our licensed states, we will locate strong local counsel to work with us to pursue your claims. Goosmann Law regularly appears in state and federal courts throughout the United States with the assistance of local counsel, with whom we have developed strong relationships.
Before filing suit in state or federal court, if there are administrative agencies involved we will exhaust your administrative remedies promptly so we can get your lawsuit on file. The timing of your lawsuit is also a strategic decision. Sometimes you want to file suit first and address settlement options later, but sometimes you want to put forth every effort to resolve the matter before a public lawsuit. The law may also dictate when you must file your claims with a statute of limitations or a statute of repose. Goosmann Law navigates your business through all of these issues.
What are your claims and what should you sue for?
Before filing a lawsuit, Goosmann Law evaluates the facts and analyzes a broad spectrum of potential causes of action. We utilize our experience and litigation know-how to craft a Complaint that puts your business in the strongest position possible to achieve your goals. Before filing suit, we analyze various issues, such as whether you should ask for a jury trial or a bench (non-jury) trial; whether you can seek and recover punitive damages; whether you should seek a temporary or permanent injunction; and what type of damages are recoverable. Moreover, we anticipate the counterclaims and defenses that the other side will likely assert. We cut through the legal clutter and use our skills to your advantage.
I’m getting deposed, how do I know what to do to prepare?
Goosmann Law’s clients are prepared when its deposition time, plain and simple. Our clients know what to expect long before the court reporter swears you in and before the video camera starts rolling. We provide documents to review, explain the process, run you through mock questioning—anything to get you as prepared as possible. We protect you in the deposition and object to improper questions from opposing counsel. We protect our attorney client privilege and enforce the Rules of Civil Procedure. We will be by your side. We make sure you give the best testimony possible.
When we take depositions, we are equally prepared. We know your goals, whether we are deposing a fact witness or company representative. We know how to handle witnesses that “can’t remember the facts” or are combative, hostile or evasive. We also know how to handle opposing counsel. We take WOW depositions – depositions that win Motions for Summary Judgment and impeach witnesses at trial on large screens right behind them on the witness stand.
What experts do you hire?
In many cases, the selection of an expert witness is crucial. Goosmann Law has developed strong relationships with experts in countless fields so we can find the expert that fits your case. We engage those experts early on in disputes, and have them assist in our case strategy to help us win. We select experts that calculate damages, opine on liability issues, explain difficult concepts to judges and juries in plain English, and help us attack the opinions of our opponents’ experts.
How are social media, texts, voicemails, video and other electronically-stored information used in lawsuits?
When retrieving document requests that involve electronically-stored information (“ESI”), it’s important to preserve authenticity and admissibility at trial. Our attorneys are skilled in ensuring that ESI documentation is properly handled in court. ESI can include data from a range of different areas, such as social media, shared hard drives and smartphones. Our litigation lawyers are very familiar with the process of electronic discovery and will help you to produce the necessary ESI information at trial.
Are jury consultants real? What are jury consultants and what is their role during trial?
If you have ever seen the new CBS series Bull, you’ve probably asked yourself if jury consultants are in fact real. Don’t worry, you won’t find any spoilers about the show here, but you should know that the drama inspired by Dr. Phil McGraw’s early career is in fact very real. A jury consultant is an expert in human behavior and can help attorneys select jurors. They play a huge role in the pretrial process, as they gather information about jurors and assist in the juror selection process.
During the trial, a jury consultant works with the attorney to shape juror perceptions of the case in order to help achieve a favorable outcome. This can include judging a juror’s behavior and body language and helping the witness with their presentation of facts.
What types of evidence are used during a case?
Generally, there are four types of evidence: real evidence, demonstrative, documentary and testimony. In relation to the case, real evidence, documentary evidence and testimony may be considered substantive. Real evidence refers to anything tangible, demonstrative is a model of what likely happened, documentary is anything considered written and testimonial is provided by a witness at trial. All types of evidence must be obtained legally in order to be admissible in court.
What does attorney-work product mean?
Attorney-work product refers to attorney notes, reports about client and witness conversations, attorney strategy memos, and legal research. These materials and information are prepared in anticipation of litigation and are privileged, meaning your opponent typically cannot obtain the materials and information.
What does attorney-client privilege mean?
The attorney-client privilege protects the communications between attorneys and their clients. In other words, if you are in a lawsuit or are communicating with an attorney in anticipation of a lawsuit, your opponent cannot “discover” or obtain the contents of the communications you (or your officers or employees) had with the attorney. Those communications are confidential and will be kept secret.
What is a tort?
Not to be confused with a delicious dessert, a tort refers to a wrongful act. The party that commits a tort is considered the tortfeaser (or defendant), and can be held liable if they had a duty to behave in a certain way, failed to conform to that duty, and caused injury or loss as a result. Torts can be intentional (e.g., assault or defamation) or negligent (e.g., a car accident). In addition, there are strict liability torts (e.g., product liability lawsuits) which do not require intentional or negligent acts.
How are class action lawsuits different from other lawsuits?
A class action lawsuit is a real life example of the concept that there is “strength in numbers.” A class action lawsuit differs from a normal lawsuit because more plaintiffs (the people who file the lawsuit) are involved in the process. In a class action lawsuit, a group of people with similar claims (some of whom can be unknown at the time the lawsuit is filed) take action against a defendant. In a class action lawsuit, the group must name a “lead plaintiff” to represent all of the plaintiffs’ interests. When the lawsuit is resolved, the outcome applies to all of the plaintiffs.
What are opening statements?
An opening statement is similar to how it sounds – it begins the trial and is each party’s opportunity to set the scene for the jury. An opening statement however, is limited to outlining facts that will introduce the dispute at hand. The key information to remember when writing an opening statement is that it should not propose an argument, but instead should provide insight into what will be said on the stand for that particular party. Many jurors make their decisions after opening statements and then use the evidence to support their conclusion, and we at Goosmann put extreme care and effort into crafting effective opening statements to ensure the jury understands the merits of our client’s position.
How do you pick a jury?
A jury should be made up of individuals who are free from bias or prejudice. An attorney selects a jury that will reflect the plaintiff and will ultimately understand specific facts of the case at hand. Potentially with the help of a jury consultant, a jury is selected through questioning and keen observation. Behavior, demographics and life experience are looked at closely to predict a juror’s stance on a particular topic and can improve the outcome of the case by up to 15 percent
How do you keep your client informed on their case?
Communication is key to an effective attorney-client relationship. Lawyers must keep their clients informed about any and all changes in their case and must get the clients’ consent before taking certain actions on the clients’ behalf. The job of a lawyer is to give advice about a legal issue, but he/she must also keep the client informed and involved in important decisions. Goosmann Law does not keep clients in the dark. We have a 24-hour policy/expectation when it comes to responding to client telephone calls and text messages. We understand the pace of business. We know some things require immediate attention.
When do you get a hearing?
A hearing is used as an opportunity to present oral arguments regarding a motion, such as moving forward with the trial or settling the case out of court. Ultimately, a hearing will determine how the trial proceeds. A hearing is similar to a trial in the way that it is held publicly and involves both parties, however, a hearing is much more informal. Hearings are usually shorter than trials, and often do not involve the introduction of any evidence or testimony. Some hearings can result in the resolution of the case itself prior to trial, as one party is able to show it’s legally entitled to an award or dismissal regardless of the factual disputes.
When and how can you appeal a court decision?
An appeal is often brought to the appellate court by way of a written appellate brief filed by the counsel of each party involved in a case. This brief will discuss the judge’s decision and argue that the law was incorrectly applied in this particular case. This brief may be filed as soon as the judge’s decision has been made and the appeal will hold more weight than the proceedings of the trial.
How often are cases taken in the Supreme Court?The Supreme Court receives approximately 7,000 to 8,000 petitions for writ of certiorari each term, however, the court only grants and hears oral arguments in about 80 cases. The case would first be heard by your local federal district court, and then by a federal circuit court of appeals.
How do you set a case budget?A case budget is largely dependent on the content of the case and an attorney can help you establish a budget to fit the needs of your case. The case budget may also be based on the amount of court costs to be paid, or for the fees paid to experts, mediators, arbitrators, or jury consultants.
I think one of my employees is stealing proprietary information. What should I do?
First, review your company policies regarding the handling of confidential information; it may be time to update these policies. Second, conduct an internal investigation to gather evidence; this may require the help of an accountant, attorney or IT specialist. Finally, interview the employee after gathering all possible information from other sources.
The construction project is not meeting the specifications or timeline we wanted. We (the owners) are not happy. What can we do?
Don’t panic. Call Goosmann Law Firm and let our skilled construction attorneys assume your problem and make it their own. We understand how frustrating it can be when a construction project does not meet an owner’s expectations. We will advise you of your options, and represent your interests both during construction and post-construction.