I will never forget the day I appeared before a Los Angeles Supreme Court judge to request a proceeding because the trial date was set on the same day as my first child's due date. The judge looked down at me with no sympathy or remorse and said clearly: "Someone else from your company has to try the case." The fact that I worked for a small 3-person company didn't convince him.
Similarly, a federal judge in Dallas recently found in a supplementary report that two deaths from lawyers and one tornado are not convincing to justify the plaintiff's increased harm. The parties had previously agreed to continue the original deadline for appointing experts. The plaintiff, Premier Electronics, submitted a damage report two days after the deadline. The plaintiff changed the report next month but did not increase the amount of damages. Two months later, the plaintiff tried to change the report again, with the claim for damages increasing significantly. The plaintiff indicated that his report had to be changed because his expert had a power outage caused by a tornado a few days before the original report was submitted. As a result, the plaintiff's small law firm had one employee abruptly leave the firm and two unexpected deaths by a lawyer, leaving the lawyer as the only full-time lawyer in the firm.
While the judge sympathized, she said that it was not enough to allow the plaintiff to increase her damage as it would harm the defendant ADT, Inc. This case shows the importance of continuing to monitor all deadlines, even if your company undoubtedly has a plethora of excuses to justify a missed deadline. I understand it is not easy to process in the middle of a pandemic. There are many obstacles to meeting deadlines, including illness, court and company closures, technology issues, and conflicting court orders. However, every law firm and lawyer has very similar, if not identical, excuses. While some judges understand, it is always best to assume that you have to try to move mountains to meet your deadlines. Save yourself and your clients time and money, and make every effort not to be the lawyer who is told that their excuse is simply not good enough. Stop apologizing and make changes by being extra diligent and submitting early.
Audrey L. Priolo is a licensed California lawyer with over 13 years of litigation and litigation experience. She now works at American LegalNet as a litigation attorney. Questions can be directed to email@example.com