Why TV Piracy Cases Do Not Go to Trial

Posted on July 12, 2015 by Matthew Paré

Statistically, far over 99% of TV signal piracy cases either settle or are decided by the court on a motion instead of going to trial.  This is true of TV signal piracy cases especially, but it is also the case that civil litigation cases across the board typically do not end up going to trial.  There are very good reasons that most TV piracy cases do not go to trial, as will be explained in this article.

A very large percentage of TV signal piracy cases settle voluntarily at some point before going to trial.  It is possible to settle and resolve a case at any point, even before a lawsuit is filed, or after a lawsuit is filed, or during the discovery phase of the case, or at any other point.  It is generally a prudent idea to try to settle a claim against you only after having an opportunity to review the plaintiff’s evidence against you.  In TV piracy cases the plaintiff often does not willingly disclose its evidence until they are required to in the lawsuit process, so the settlement may not come immediately or in the short-term.  However, the fact that it is often a long process is actually a good thing because it means you can have more time to save money for a possible settlement when the time comes.  

Although settlement is a reasonable goal, it is extremely important to not be too desperate to settle a case as the defendant because the plaintiff will take advantage of that desperation to demand a very large amount of money.  If you are set on settling quickly you have essentially given up a lot of leverage that you can have to say how much money the settlement will be for in terms of the amount.  It is often the case in TV signal piracy cases, for example, that by waiting until shortly before the plaintiff is required to attend a court-ordered mediation or other proceeding the plaintiff is much more willing to settle for something reasonable as an alternative to incurring that cost and hassle.  Therefore, patience and strategy are very important to presenting an appropriate settlement offer at the most opportune time to resolve your case for the smallest amount possible.  Merely throwing numbers back and forth and telling the plaintiff you do not have money is not an effective strategy, it requires thorough knowledge of civil procedure in federal litigation.  In TV piracy cases the plaintiff often ends up accepting a small fraction of its initial demand, and accepts an amount it previously scoffed at in the process.

Settlement in general is often a good idea because of the risks involved with litigation, and in TV signal piracy cases in particular the award of attorney’s fees that the plaintiff is entitled to receive is a significant risk.  Additionally, settlement is an opportunity to take some control over the resolution of your case and come to something that is mutually agreeable.  It is extremely important to understand, however, that a lot of strategy and litigation goes into an effective settlement negotiation in civil litigation.  

Even if a case does not settle it can avoid going to trial because the judge can render a decision as to the outcome of the case based upon the written evidence submitted in a motion for summary judgment.  Either the plaintiff or the defendant can file a motion for summary judgment, and often both sides do in a given case, presenting their arguments and affidavits in support of what the outcome of the case should be.  

It is important to understand what a trial is and why a motion for summary judgment can be used as an alternative to going to trial.  Most people have an image in their head of a trial as depicted in TV shows or movies, with a judge and jury sitting in open court listening to live testimony from a witness or hearing the oral arguments of counsel.  The purpose of that whole proceeding is to allow the fact-finder (i.e. jury) to consider conflicting evidence and make a judgment about what to believe.  In cases that do not have a disputed issue of a material fact there is no need for a trial.  Because in most TV signal piracy cases the basic facts of the case are undisputed (such as yes, the fight was shown on TV at the establishment), there will likely be no need for a trial, and the judge can rule on a motion for summary judgment to decide the verdict in the case and determine the appropriate amount of damages to award.  

A motion for summary judgment is a useful mechanism to resolve a TV signal piracy case if the plaintiff does not settle the claim.  If the plaintiff’s settlement position is unreasonably high the motion for summary judgment is a great way to allow a more reasonable-minded person (the judge) to determine the appropriate amount of damages to award, listening to the arguments regarding why they should be low in your case, or depending on the circumstances, why the plaintiff should not recover anything.  

Whether a case resolves through settlement or motion for summary judgment, it is critically important to have expert legal counsel.  Attorney Matthew Pare has resolved countless TV signal piracy cases through settlement as well as motions for summary judgment and is familiar with all of the procedures and strategy involved.  Contact him today for a free consultation at 619-869-4999.  

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