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Roger, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 30910
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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A client was presented with the choice between being sued for

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A client was presented with the choice between being sued for punitive damages related to a past DUI offense (involving a car accident), or giving testimony against the bars where the client drank on the eventing of the DUI. The client was notified that they were being sued for punitive damages related to their DUI/car accident, and so the client scheduled a meeting with their DUI lawyer to discuss this development. At the meeting, the lawyer representing the individual seeking punitive damages was unexpectedly present. Together, the two lawyers made the case to the client that if they gave testimony for the lawsuit against the bars, punitive damages would not be pursued. Effort was taken to emphasize the potential severity of the punitive damages. Does this constitute what is known as 'abuse of process'? The client does not wish to testify or participate in any way in the lawsuit against the bars. What should the client do in this situation?
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Criminal Law litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.

Abuse of process generally involves lying about a judicial process being commenced when it hasn't, or some other similar proceeding. Here's a good link that outlines the matter:

However, the person doesn't have to favorably testify against the bar if he/she doesn't want to - - that's up to him. Also, the person has the right to refuse to testify IF it would result in self incrimination under the 5th Amendment.

It just sounds like they're offering a deal to the person that they won't sue in exchange for his helpful testimony. If he refuses, then they may sue, but getting punitive damages is a VERY difficult thing to accomplish.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the reply .being hit with punitive damages was presented to my friend as being likely, with agreeing to testify the only way to avoid them, an either-or proposition. Do you think it would be worthwhile to get a second legal opinion?
Punitive damages are VERY DIFFICULT to get. They are meant to punish someone for extraordinary actions or to make an example out of the person to prevent future similar actions. Judges are very reluctant to grant them as well. That's not to say that a lawsuit can't be filed asking for punitives, but it's a difficult case to win.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
That's interesting and very helpful. That the viability of the lawsuit and punitive damages against my friend were never discussed (it was presented mainly as a nasty alternative to agreeing to testify) seems odd to me. There's no direct evidence that my friend's attorneys isn't acting in their best interest, of course, but I'm going to suggest he seek an outside opinion. Thank you for for your insight.
I think that's good advice.
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