Demand Letters

Mark Zamora at Trial Lawyer Resource Center has a good post on demand letters.  See also an additional comment by Ron Miller.  Mr. Zamora states the following:

Demand letters that do not demand a sum certain: With few exceptions, none of my demand letters states a dollar amount to settle. My clients always receive a copy of the demand letter sent out, and it has become too cumbersome to inflate a number in the letter only to have to convince our injured client to accept an offer that is lower than a stated amount. Exceptions of course are demand letters seeking policy limits.

I would like to add one additional comment to this from my perspective as a sometime defense attorney for school districts.  Demand letters that come with an inflated number get nowhere.  Every time we got a demand letter that asked for a number that was astronomical, the demand letter was essentially ignored.  We, the defense attorneys, were told to open a file and get ready to start discovery.  It was assumed plaintiff's attorney would be unreasonable.  On the other hand, demand letters without a number got more consideration as they were seen as an invitation to start some sort of dialogue on value.

And as a postscript.  In a mediation years ago where the initial demand letter had been astronomical, I distinctly heard from the room where the plaintiffs were caucusing a loud voice saying, "But what about the 12 million ......."

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