There is an old saying to the effect that a bad settlement is usually better than a good lawsuit. Simply put, lawsuits are expensive. The Nevada Rules of Civil procedure, enacted to ensure the “just, speedy, and inexpensive” resolution of lawsuits miss the target by a mile. By twenty miles. Courts are now mostly resolving disputes between the wealthy, for middle class Americans simply can’t afford to seek justice in the Courts. This is nothing new. It has been the case for hundreds of years. But to many of us, it seems to be getting worse, not better.
Discovery rules, designed to prevent “trial by ambush” contribute needlessly to the cost of litigation. Trial by ambush is not good, but it is better, far better, than no trial at all, being the current situation.
The Nevada Supreme Court has enacted and regularly considers enacting numerous provisions designed to render litigation less expensive. We can only hope that it continues this process. It is an ever-going, never-ending process.
Many contracts now provide for mandatory arbitration, a cheaper alternative. But, it seems, that arbitration is usually geared towards preventing whoever drafted the contract from being held liable for punitive damages.
Nevada law allows for class actions, but insurance companies and others have successfully pushed for legislation that pretty well eliminates effect redress by way of class action.
So far, outside of arbitration, the precious right to trial by jury has survived, despite efforts by corporate America to eliminate it. But corporate America has limited the amount of damages a Nevada jury can award and otherwise attempted to reduce a jury’s ability to right clear wrongs.
Local rules contribute to the expense of litigation as the lawyer must learn them in order to effectively litigate. Each court now has what amounts to local rules and there are many courts. State District Courts in each county. Federal District Courts. Appellate Courts, both state and federal. Justice Courts. The legislature meets at least every two years, and enacts its own set of laws and rules. All producing a constantly moving mass of state and local rules and laws that the litigating lawyer must learn. No wonder litigation is becoming the province of the one percent. No wonder that wrongs which produce damages of less that $50,000 or so often have no adverse consequence to the wrongdoer. The wronged cannot afford to redress the wrong.