Sometimes, it makes sense not to file a lawsuit, even if you have good claims, where there’s no easy victory and the lawsuit will ultimately cost more in time, legal fees, and distraction than you’ll ever recover.
We’re seeing a possible example of this with the lawsuit filed by Radio DJ David Mueller against Taylor Swift. Mueller alleges that a false accusation by Taylor Swift to his bosses led to him getting fired. In the lawsuit, Taylor Swift quickly filed a counterclaim, alleging assault and battery while they posed for this picture.
If you’ll pardon the pun, this plaintiff has grabbed a tiger by the tail.
By filing this lawsuit, he stepped into near-certain litigation involving a motivated, deep-pocketed opponent who will put up a relentless fight in a lawsuit with no clear facts. In this case, there’s no easy victory and, worse, there’s no easy middle ground. It’s his word versus her word, a fight over principle, and litigation like that is always expensive and impossible to settle without a jury (or judge) deciding who is right.
I recently had a very good client come to my office, with a new lawsuit for me to pursue. The facts were messy, with emotional claims on each side, with no clear facts showing either side was clearly right, and with no way to recover the attorneys fees if we won.
In the end, my best advice was to avoid the stress, expense, and distraction of waging this fight over a fairly small amount of money, even though I was confident we’d win in the end. In discussing emotional disputes, one my most respected law partners, Ed Yarbrough, once said, “If the client says it’s all about the principle, then I have no interest.”
Sometimes, the best way to win a fight is to know which ones aren’t worth fighting.