*(Note: This Guest Blog is by Craig Kubiak, an attorney in the Tampa office of Merlin Law Group)
I recently settled an insurance claim for a client here in Florida. Throughout the pendency of the claim, the insurance company’s experts emphatically denied what I believed to be the cause of the damage to my client’s house. I conducted depositions throughout the state of Florida and elsewhere. Lo and behold, after leaving no stone unturned, I found out some very interesting things about the experts used by the opposing party and how the carrier treated my client and handled the claim in this particular matter. Prior settlement negotiations that were left for dead were suddenly resurrected like a phoenix rising up from the ashes. Soon thereafter, the claim resolved confidentially. Suffice it to say, that under the terms and conditions of the agreement, I am only permitted to state that the parties have resolved their differences amicably and that the litigation has now ended.
Who do you imagine requested that this claim be settled confidentially?
Making an offer to the other party in a lawsuit to settle a case confidentially is equally available to both parties. Once agreed to, strict adherence is an absolute requirement. Upon reflection, I cannot think of a single instance in mine, or anybody else’s career, when the party who filed the lawsuit ever requested confidentiality. The offended party in a lawsuit wants the world to know how they have been treated by the offending party. They often think to themselves, “If this happened to me, it can happen to you too.” The offended party is often mad, confused, and even a little scared all at the same time. There have been times at the conclusion of one of my client’s claims, after all the paperwork has been signed and the checks disbursed, when they have said to me, “I still don’t understand why they treated me the way that they did.”
So when do you agree to keeping something confidential? Not every case filed by Merlin Law Group, or any other law firm for that matter, settles confidentially. In fact, most don’t. The facts and circumstances of each claim dictate when and if your claim may be a candidate for such a resolution. Most claims don’t start out with confidential settlements on anybody’s mind. But being extremely thorough and diligent during the discovery phase of a claim can sometimes uncover dirty little secrets that the insurance company doesn’t want the rest of the world to know. Recognizing that the other party does not want certain information to get out to the general public has value. How much value is determined by just how dirty their little secret is.
So, have you figured out yet which party involved in the lawsuit I filed asked for a confidential settlement?