Monthly Archives: April 2011

Topamax Lawyer in Baltimore

Our lawyers are reviewing Topamax birth defect lawsuits in Baltimore.
Topamax or Topiramate has been used to treat everything except the bubonic plague. It is supposed to treat some types of seizures in patients who have epilepsy.

Topamax lawsuits involve birth defects from the children of women who were taking Topamax/Topiramate. The birth defects have most typically been either cleft lips and cleft palates.

Topamax birth defect lawsuits claim that the manufacturer – Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals – knew or should have know that Topamax caused these birth defects in children.

If your son or daughter has a birth defect and the child’s mother was using Topamax, visit our Topamax information center and learn more about Topamax birth defect lawsuits that are being filed around the country. Our Baltimore based attorneys will provide a free evaluation of your potential Topamax lawsuit. Call 800-553-6000.

How Not to Object at a Deposition

Law blogs are full of “how to’s” on deposition techniques. Do a quick search and you will find tons of hints of all kinds. You can find checklists, tips for client preparation or articles on effectively using exhibits. I’ve written some things like that myself. But today I have a quick lesson in what not to do when defending a deposition, and how to handle it when it happens.

This is from a deposition I recently took of a defendant driver in a car accident case that is pending in federal district court (I have redacted all of the names but my own):
Q. And are you contending in this lawsuit that Mr. Plaintiff is a faker?
A. Again, that is not something personally I have any evidence to suggest otherwise. I think that will come out with testimony and through this fact-finding.
Q. So is that yes, no, or I don’t know?
Defense Counsel: I object. The question’s been answered. Go on to the next question. That’s a
dumb question.
Q. (By Mr. Bratt) I’m not sure I understand your answer, Mr. Defendant. Are you making a contention that Mr. Plaintiff is a faker in this case?
A. I am not making that contention.
Now, there are a couple of lessons here.

First, this is not how to object at a deposition. Can you spot any legally cognizable objections in what defense counsel said? Arguably, I can spot one- “asked and answered.” Although I don’t agree that it is a meritorious objection, at least it sounds like something that could conceivably have a legal basis. The next thing defense counsel said- “Go on to the next question”, isn’t an objection at all. It’s just an attempt to bully and obstruct my questioning. And finally, the last part: “That’s a dumb question.” Really? I don’t know what this is or what it was supposed to accomplish. But in any event, it isn’t an objection either.

The lawyer defending this deposition (a partner at the Baltimore office of a national law firm) should have known better. What he’s doing doesn’t advance his client’s interest or help defend the case. And let’s face it, it makes him look kind of silly. Especially if someone were to put it in a blog post and make fun of him on the internet. Not that I would do that kind of thing. But you do see things like this from time to time, usually from a senior lawyer trying to bully a less experienced lawyer into accepting a non-responsive answer from the deponent.

Lesson two here is what to do when opposing counsel tries to pull something like this. There is a school of thought that believes in fighting fire with fire. Under this approach I would have acted all angry and offended, and said something like “This is my deposition, I decide when to move along and I will continue my questions until I get a responsive answer. Make your objection and then be quiet.”
As you can see, that’s not how I roll. I see no value in getting into arguments with opposing counsel at depositions. I just ignored the guy and kept with my examination, ultimately getting a responsive answer. And I would have kept at it until I got a responsive answer, or he instructed the witness not to answer. Instead of a useless argument with counsel, I got a responsive answer to my question.
I think I know what was really going on. This lawyer didn’t know me, and we had never had a case together before. So near the beginning of the deposition, he took his shot to see if he could push me around. It didn’t work, and I don’t think he said anything else during the rest of the deposition.

So if this happens to you, stick to your guns and be peristent. Eventually, you will get one of two things: a responsive answer, or a transcript showing a witness being overtly evasive with the assistance of counsel. The former is what you wanted all along, and the latter has a variety of uses at trial, especially if it is on video.

Chief Justice Roberts Shows Up Unannounced For Law School Moot Court

In my 13 years as a lawyer, I have tried hundreds of cases ranging from District Court small claims to million-dollar jury verdicts, and including appeals to Maryland’s highest court.

I am well acquainted with the idea that suprise is a trial lawyer’s constant companion. The only guarantee is that you never know what will happen. Even after all that experience, if the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States walked out unannounced to hear my argument, I think I might forget my toilet training.

So when that happened to this student in a law school mock argument, I am impressed that she was able to say anything at all. This will be a nice story for this student to tell in interviews to illustrate her ability to advocate effectively under pressure.

HT to How Appealing.
P.S.- Thankfully, it doesn’t look like President Obama was surprised to see him.