Monday, March 15, 2010

Life in the Doldrums Continues for Civil Litigators

A massive IP case skewed the outcome, but verdicts in many causes of action declined in 2009, according to Top 100 Verdicts of 2009 list

Anyone who hoped that commercial litigation might help law firms weather the recession was surely disappointed last year.

That's judging by the recoveries that National Law Journal affiliate VerdictSearch counted among its Top 100 Verdicts of 2009. Commercial verdicts, including breach-of-contract recoveries, fell from $1.4 billion in 2008 to $421 million last year. Fraud recoveries plummeted by nearly 70 percent to $561.3 million. Intellectual property litigation saw an increase -- from $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion. But that picture was distorted by a single massive recovery: Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.'s $1.67 billion verdict against Abbott Laboratories in the Eastern District of Texas. Absent that result, patent judgments would have declined significantly.

In fact, absent the Centocor verdict, overall recoveries would have declined from the 2008 level of $8.93 billion to $7.3 billion. Counting Centocor, the bottom line managed to increase by 1 percent, to $8.98 billion.

What happened, according to law firm litigation department heads interviewed by The NLJ, was that corporate clients worked to control costs by waiting to file suits. They likely will continue do so through the first half of 2010, said Peter Haveles Jr., co-chairman of Kaye Scholer's complex commercial litigation department. "Part of it is deferring activity and not necessarily commencing a lawsuit if you can sue now or a year from now," he said.

the rest of the article can be read here :

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