The Utter Importance of Discovery and Disclosure by Clients

April 24, 2020

One of the biggest hardships for attorneys in representing clients is ensuring that we are getting the full picture. This was a hurdle that was nearly detrimental in a case when it was discovered that the insured withheld vital information regarding what occurred after an unfortunate outcome following a surgery. Without having all of the information and documents in the possession of the insured, it is nearly impossible to properly evaluate and defend a case. At Patton & Ryan, we focus our efforts in trying to ensure our clients are providing all potentially relevant evidence in order for us to ascertain what must be disclosed pursuant to the rules of any given state, and also what can assist us in providing the most thorough and zealous defense for our clients.

Patton & Ryan was recently brought in to assist in a catastrophic medical malpractice case immediately before expert discovery commenced, following completion of written discovery. Unbeknownst to the defense attorneys, there was a note following the surgery that directly supported Plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiffs’ counsel had a picture of the note, due to an agreed upon product inspection prior to outside counsel being retained.

Following the inspection, photographs were sent to all parties involved. One of those photographs was a picture of the note memorializing reportedly what had occurred during the surgery. However, the insured never turned over the inspection materials to counsel and they were also never produced by Plaintiffs in discovery. Our office did not discover the note until the last deposition in the case when Plaintiffs’ counsel presented it to the individual he thought authored it. Not knowing about this vital note almost derailed the defense strategy for trial and settlement negotiations. Fortunately, we were still able to resolve the matter just shy of trial.

When we have all the evidence and understanding of the case and the parties involved, we are equipped with providing our best recommendations for a resolution–is the case suitable for trial or is settlement the best resolution? This was an example of why at Patton & Ryan, we always tell our clients that we need to know everything–the good, the bad, and the ugly. We emphasize to our clients that we cannot properly defend the case and work for the best resolution for the client.