August 20, 2014 Articles

Strategically Selecting Case-Specific Deponents in Personal-Injury Mass-Tort Litigation

By M. Joseph Winebrenner and Christine Kain

Personal-injury mass-tort cases can provide young lawyers with early deposition experience and unique opportunities to showcase their legal judgment and analytical abilities. With tens to hundreds or even thousands of pending cases—each requiring depositions of one or more plaintiffs, together with a handful or more of treating physicians and fact witnesses specific to each case—there is incentive to cut costs and gain significant efficiencies in discovery. Many defense teams achieve these objectives, in part, through the appropriate training and use of (lower-cost) young lawyers in the deposition process.

For young lawyers, the responsibilities involved in the deposition process can be daunting. Even apart from preparing for and ultimately taking the depositions—tasks for which there are already an abundance of articles providing guidance—the process of selecting the witnesses to depose requires careful thought and, if done properly, can help to maximize your defenses, minimize the facts supporting your opponents’ claims, and optimize your chances for a favorable summary-judgment ruling.

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