Welcome to North Carolina Law TV. Today we are going to talk about civil litigation, what is it and when does it apply. My guest today is David Daggett of Daggett Shuler Law and he is going to talk with us about this important topic, so David good to see you again.
David: Good to see you again and thank you for having me.
Cindy: Well David what is civil litigation?
David: Well civil litigation sounds like a complicated legal term. It is a dispute between parties that is not a criminal case, so it could be a corporation versus corporation, domestic cases or part of civil litigation. Contract disputes that go to court are civil litigation, insurance claims, personal injury claims those are civil litigation, so it’s just a dispute between parties. It’s what a typical lawsuit would be. Now most people don’t realize that we hear about the lawsuit explosion and those sort of things, those are all civil litigation but where the “ explosion is” is contract claims between corporations and domestic claims. There has not been an explosion in injury claims. Although some of our political people like to say that and those sort of things, that’s really not true. There are civil litigation claims, you’re getting me kind of passionate here because I think it’s a foundation for our freedom.
It wasn’t long ago where there was a news article, I think it was in the Wall street Journal and USA Today and all over the place about a murder on the streets of Russia. This wasn’t a drug deal that went bad, this wasn’t normal criminal activity, what it was, it was a contract dispute between parties between corporations and there wasn’t any efficient way to handle that dispute, so it was guns in the alley. Our civil litigations system provides a framework for us to handle our disputes, contract disputes, business disputes, insurance claims and personal injury disputes in a civilized organized fashion. It’s why it’s called civil litigation, civil organized fashion. I think it’s very, very important because those rights, that’s what separates our country from the rest of the world is that we have that.
Cindy: Which is great?
David: Which is great so it’s a very, very important part of our society.
Cindy: Okay now let me ask you this because in some instances and I know you handle things like wrongful death and drunk driving accidents, there is a civil litigation but isn’t there also a criminal litigation?
David: Sure drunk driving is a perfect example. So if somebody is injured, I was in a drunk driving incident okay, so an impaired driver hit me, damaged my car, had some minor injuries, so there is 2 different legal proceedings taking place, there is the criminal case that actually went to trial. I had to testify in that in a criminal court. There is a prosecutor, a defense attorney and a judge and then there’s the civil claim. The civil claim, in this situation, is processed through the insurance company and that’s a civil claim. So although they are related there are 2 separate cases on 2 separate paths, the criminal case and the civil case. Does that make sense?
Cindy: Yes it does make sense. I don’t understand the law, obviously in the way that you do, but in talking about contract disputes, isn’t there a move now where a lot of these insurance policies and things like that are pushing you to arbitration instead of litigation?
David: A lot of contracts have arbitration clauses.
Cindy: Explain what that is?
David: Well an arbitration clause means you and me have a contract together. If there is a dispute we have to take it to an arbitrator. Many times there are rules such as there is an organization called the American Arbitration Association, so the arbitration clause may say if we have a dispute we will handle that through the American Arbitration Association. That’s nice for 2 business people because they can efficiently resolve their claim. The problem is that for a customer of a business who’s not a sophisticated business person, who unknowingly signs an arbitration clause, they are being thrown into a sophisticated business arbitration process and they lose the right to a jury by their peers. A jury of your peers is a foundation of the civil litigation process and quite frankly it’s being eroded. The jury process in civil litigation, that’s what gives you the rights and the power of the most sophisticated people. For most of human history before the United States came about, for the most of human history, the rules and regulations of society were the rich and the powerful period. What the rich says that’s what you do. What the powerful says, that’s what you do, and the ordinary person has no rights whatsoever.
In the United States the ordinary person on the street has the same rights as the biggest corporation in America and if there is a dispute, they can take that in front of a jury of their peers for resolution. It’s not controlled by the rich and the powerful, it’s controlled by a jury of the peers. That’s a great equalizer in our society and It’s very, very important for individual freedoms and our individual liberties.
Cindy: And to be preserved?
David: Absolutely very, very important. People don’t realize how important that is. Even if you never use the system, the system being there protects you, so it’s very, very important. I cringe because people get notice for jury duty and the first thing they do is – I want to get out of jury duty because I don’t know what it pays $10 a day or something like that and it takes time and those sort of things. Well that is the foundation of freedom and liberty in our society and I tell people take that is very, very important, that’s our civil litigation system.
Cindy: I can see you’re very passionate about this.
David: I gave you an awful long answer to a short question and I apologize, I can actually go on all day so I hope it made sense.
Cindy: It was fantastic, let me ask you this if somebody has questions relative to civil litigation how can they reach you?
David: We have a piece on our website on that and that’s at www.daggettshulerlaw.com or they can call us at 336 724 1234 or I will come and speak to your group and tell you about it. How’s that!
Cindy: Yeah, okay, thanks for your time.
David: Thanks for having me.
Cindy: Until next time this is Cindy Speaker for North Carolina Law TV.