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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4816
Experience:  Experienced in both state and federal court.
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My husband and I are being sued for Defamation which, by all

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My husband and I are being sued for Defamation which, by all accounts, is a frivolous bogus lawsuit. We are entering court ordered mediation next week. My husband and I are separated right now and headed for divorce. My husband is inclined to settle, I do not want to settle. The Insurance company is saying they are done. They will pay a certain amount more and that is it. My husband wants to take whatever the insurance company will pay and pay the remainder of a negotiated settlement. I am considering representing myself for the remainder of the case until they drop their suit or we go to trial. Am I tied to this suit and what my husband wants to do, or can I refuse to settle and go my own way?

TexLawyer :

Good evening. I'll be assisting you with your question.

Customer:

Okay, good evening.

TexLawyer :

To answer your question directly, you can decide to pursue the case, even if your husband settles with the plaintiff.

Customer:

How would that work exactly? I mean, the Plaintiff's settlement request is based on suing both of us. Would the amount be split so that my husband would only have to pay half of what they are asking?

TexLawyer :

There is nothing requiring two defendants to negoiate the same deal. Also, you each have different positions regarding the supposedly defeaming statement and different possible defenses.

TexLawyer :

In most cases, defendants are "jointly and severally liable" for the entire amount. That means that you are both responsible for the entire amount.

Customer:

Actually, we have the same position regarding the defamatory statements, we wrote a letter of complaint together and the person was fired. My husband knows that the suit is bogus and won't stand up in trial but he just wants to be done with. I, on the only hand, cannot, on principle, hand these criminals a dime.

TexLawyer :

For example, say two people are sued together for $1,000,000. Person A is very rich and person B is poor. In that case, they are both jointly and severally liable for the entire amount, so person A would likely end up paying the entire amount, and could then sue person B for contribution.

Customer:

One more thing. At the mediation next week, how should I state my intentions to the mediator?

TexLawyer :

I'm assuming your defense to the defamation is that the statements were factually true. Is that a correct assessment?

Customer:

Are you saying that my husband could sue me for contribution?

TexLawyer :

Only if you are both found liable.

TexLawyer :

In the example, I was assuming that both people were found by a judge or jury to be liable for the amount.

Customer:

Yes, every statement in our letter was factually true. This family is a proud, sue happy family and they are merely trying to punish us for the termination of one of the family members and the fact that we reported another one of the family members to the police because he sexually victimized our daughter. He is now serving time for Possession of Abusive Child Pornography. The one who was fired had the job of forensic nurse and Program Director for a children's advocacy center and had prior knowledge that her brother was exploiting our emotionally ill daughter and did not report.

TexLawyer :

As I'm sure you already know, truth is a complete defense to defamation.

Customer:

They also sued my husband's sister with some made up statement that she supposedly made but did not.

TexLawyer :

So, if you can show that your statements were factually correct, you should not be liable.

Customer:

I do know that the truth is a complete defense to defamation and that is why I am considering representing myself because we only told the truth.

TexLawyer :

As far as what you should say to the mediator, you shoudl simply explain that the statements were true, and you are not liable for defamation. There isn't anything particularly special about a mediation.

Customer:

We can show that our statements were factually correct. The Plaintiff's attorney is nasty and uses delaying tactics to get us to fold and settle. The cost to our insurance company is already 50K and they are bailing. My husband wants to pay them off to make them go away, just like her employer did when she sued them, however, I cannot do that.

TexLawyer :

I understand your position. I'd do the same in your shoes.

Customer:

Okay, that is what I will do. If a settlement is reached, I will merely state that I am not willing to settle and plan to separate from my husband's course of action.

TexLawyer :

Yes, you can legally do that. You are not legally obligated to follow your husband's course of action, just as he's not legally required to follow yours.

TexLawyer :

They may decide not to settle with him without you, but that's really up to the plaintiff.

Customer:

Isn't it true that my current attorney has to give me all the documents acquired thus far in the case?

TexLawyer :

Yes, you can request your file from him.

Customer:

I will have to represent myself because I have no real assets. I was a stay at home mom while we moved 16 times in 18 years when my husband was in the Coast Guard. I am degreed however and believe that this, albeit it time consuming and tedious, is not rocket science. I really want to represent myself.

TexLawyer :

The law really isn't very hard to understand. Anyone with time and effort can get a working grasp of it. The rules of evidence and courtroom procedure are trickier for non-lawyers to pick up.

Customer:

This is a very complicated case but I have worked doggedly for 4 years gathering evidence. I have taken the employer's report and Decision Making Matrices and compared it with the Police Report to do a data link analysis. I have already put so much of myself into this that I do believe I could pull off finishing this case.

Customer:

I do understand that the rules of evidence and courtroom procedure is tricky however, I was thinking about trying to hire a legal coach for advice on some of the trickier procedures.

Customer:

Anyway, you have most certainly answered my question and I do appreciate your advice. Wish me luck!

Customer:

I am going to need it...

TexLawyer :

You certainly sound like an intilligent person (insofar as I can pick that up from a chat) and it appears you've put in a fair amount of work. I just would caution you that the rules of evidence are something a trial lawyer has to know cold, since evidence is something you have to know on the spot.

TexLawyer :

My advice would be to buy a courtroom evidence manual. I carry one into court every time I go.

Customer:

Where can I buy a courtroom evidence manual?

TexLawyer :

They give good "quick and dirty" rules. If you spend some time with that, you should at least get a grasp of it.

TexLawyer :

Just google "courtroom evidence manual."

Customer:

Is this manual something I can buy anywhere?

TexLawyer :

Yes.

TexLawyer :

I've made purchases from barristerbooks.com, but I can't vouch for their evidence manual.

TexLawyer :

You want something fairly brief, not a treatise.

Customer:

oh, okay... I will google courtroom evidence manual. Awesome. I know the evidence from our case inside and out verbatim. I retyped the employers report and decision making matrix in order to insert my responses based on evidence. It is amazing what one came pick up by retyping something. I found many things that I had missed when I read it a few times.

TexLawyer :

Also, you may consider a subscription to Just Answer, so you can ask as many questions of a lawyer as you want.

Customer:

I will certainly take your advice and buy an evidence manual. Thank you and I feel that I am well on my way.

Customer:

Really? A Subscription? How does that work?

TexLawyer :

It basically allows you to pay a certain amount each month and you can have unlimited questions.

Customer:

Fantastic. That is exactly what I will do. Thank you so, so much. You have been extremely helpful. I have been so frustrated with the process so far and I am feeling empowered at the thought of representing myself. Thanks again and good luck to you in your life's journey.

TexLawyer :

I'm glad to help.

TexLawyer :

If you have any questions in the future, you can direct them to me by posting them directly to my profile here:

Customer:

Okay great. So I just look for your name TexLawyer and click on it?

TexLawyer :

I'd be glad to help you through your case.

TexLawyer :

Just post a question using that link. Also, to make sure it gets to me, be sure to include "this question is for TexLawyer" in the title.

Customer:

Fantastic. I will do that. You can be my legal coach :) I am feeling so much better now.

TexLawyer :

My pleasure. Do keep in mind that while I can help you through the legal process and answer your questions, I will not be able to advise you on settlement offers and decisions like that. I just don't have access to the amount of discovery and information I'd need for those kind of major case decisions.

TexLawyer :

Can I help you with anything else tonight>

TexLawyer :

?

Customer:

Oh absolutely. I totally understand that part. Well, I can't think of anything right now. I have a lot of thoughts rushing through my mind about how I will win this case.... LOL I have your profile link stored so thank you and I am sure you will be hearing from me again. :)

TexLawyer :

Glad we could make a connection. I look forward to helping you through this process. We'll get through it.

TexLawyer :

If I can't do anything else for you tonight, please remember to "rate" my answer. Good luck!

Customer:

Yes we will! I already have the Excellent Service face punched :) Take care!

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