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Why would a defendant fight a lawsuit when there is clearly irrefutable evidence against them?

Bend, OR |

rhetorical question perhaps, but a friend has recently filed suit against her longstanding business partners with more evidence than could sink a ship. it revolves around breaches of contract issues and she's worried they're going to fight because she really doesn't have the mental resolve to take them on given the past 2 years of battling with them in an attempt to resolve amicably! non-legal people (like me!) look at it and think she's a shoe in to win, if it does go to trial, but I keep telling her that given her clear and irrefutable mountains of evidence that 100% confirms her position, as well as the huge costs that it would be to everyone concerned to fight it, she should be confident that they will probably just settle it.

but i know of nightmare instances where sometimes the goliath just tries to bury david per se, and I guess I ask the rehtorical question for some moral support and a bit of insight as to the motives behind why a defendant might want to take on a battle they're surely likely to lose?

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Attorney answers 2


I am admitted in NJ not OR so this is for general information. Most lay people have no concept whatever about proving a dispute in court. Proving a case is completely different than asserting one's side to the argument. Certain documents, witnesses and testimony may be inadmissible for reasons too technical to go into here. Keep in mind if a lawyer costs $10,000 and the dispute is for $5,000, maybe the defendant will settle; if the dispute is for $30,000 then it is cost effective for the defendant to hire a lawyer with the instructions to fight the issue. People who don't have the mental resolve for this do not belong in a courtroom. You hire a lawyer because we are trained for this, and protect you from the agita, because many actions which wear out a lay person is part of our everyday life. I cannot begin to tell you the number of people who come into any lawyer's office with a "sure-fire" case with visions of millions of dollars dancing in their heads, and usually after a brief review a lawyer can tell them tha their case is much weaker than they thought. I also have found out that plaintiffs in a pending legal case give all the facts that support their side and never tell their friends (or their attorneys for that matter!) the facts that do not support them. If your friend was to run the case by a lawyer, not a lay friend, she might find out that the battle is much tougher than she thinks. By the way, lawyers get specialized training precisely because very few of our cases are "a walk in the park." War story: I once worked in NYC for a law firm which defended Rockefeller Center, and the family which owned the Center. The instructions from the family was to fight every single law suit no matter what the dollar amount was. The family did not word getting around that suing the Rockefellers meant money in your pocket. It meant long and costly legal battles no matter what the outcome.


Perhaps the defendants are using litigation as a tactic towards settling (along the lines of forcing your friend to pay attorneys fees until she relents). Or, the defendants don't have any money, so they have nothing to lose. Or, they could be stalling through litigation while they move money elsewhere. Those are some practical, albeit questionable, reasons. There also could be any number of impractical reasons; often emotions cloud judgment, especially during legal fights.

*Disclaimer: This is not legal advice; please do not consider it as such.*

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