April 20, 2019

Archives for June 18, 2015

The Future of Law (Part 23): The Future Couldn’t Wait III

rhodesI tried to end this series three weeks ago, but the future keeps arriving, and I keep wanting to tell you about it. I realize that just because it’s news to me doesn’t mean it’s news, and this week’s topic is a case in point: it was analyzed in this law journal article three years ago.

This article is dedicated to highlighting the coming age of Quantitative Legal Prediction with hopes that practicing lawyers, law students and law schools will take heed and prepare to survive (thrive) in this new ordering. Simply put, most lawyers, law schools and law students are going to have to do more to prepare for the data driven future of this industry. In other words, welcome to Law’s Information Revolution and yeah — there is going to be math on the exam.

“Quantitative Legal Prediction” is noteworthy because it encompasses several developments we’ve been talking about:

Use of data/trend analysis as a predictive legal decision making tool, made possible by technology’s ability to sort through massive amounts of data and find what’s relevant — i.e., to think like a lawyer, techno-style.

The morphing of digital tools such as ediscovery and online due diligence from their case-specific beginnings into more widely accessible databases of searchable information.

The creation of new law school legal training to promote the systems thinking the future of law requires.

The above all come together in Ravel Law, as described a couple weeks ago in The Lawyerist:

We hear a lot of talk about “big data” and how it will drive law practice in the future. In theory, someday you will have every bit of relevant practice data at your fingertips and you will be able to use that to predict how a judge will rule on a case, have computers crunch through discovery, and realistically predict the cost of litigation. That someday is getting closer and closer, particularly with tools like Ravel.

At its most advanced, Ravel also offers judge analytics, where you can see patterns about how judges rule and what ideas and people influence those judges. That type of analysis could be incredibly helpful in making decisions about settlement, deciding who should argue a case, whether to strike a judge, and how to approach your pretrial motion practice.

The National Law Review said this about Ravel Law last winter:

Data analytics and technology has been used in many different fields to predict successful results.

Having conducted metrics-based research and advocacy while at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and observing how data-driven decision making was being used in areas like baseball and politics, [Ravel Law founder Daniel Lewis] was curious why the legal industry had fallen so far behind. Even though the legal field is often considered to be slow moving, there are currently over 11 million opinions in the U.S. judicial system with more than 350,000 new opinions issued per year. There is also a glut of secondary material that has appeared on the scene in the form of legal news sources, white papers, law blogs and more. Inspired by technology’s ability to harness and utilize vast amounts of information, Daniel founded Ravel Law to accommodate the dramatically growing world of legal information.

Ravel’s team of PhDs and technical advisors from Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook, has coded advanced search algorithms to determine what is relevant, thereby enhancing legal research’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Ravel provides insights, rather than simply lists of related materials, by using big data technologies such as machine learning, data visualization, advanced statistics and natural language processing.

Not surprisingly, Ravel Law has worked closely with law students to develop and market itself:

“We work with schools because students are always the latest generation and have the highest expectations about how technology should work for them.” Students have given the Ravel team excellent feedback and have grown into a loyal user base over the past few years. Once these students graduate, they introduce Ravel to their firms.”

Ravel Law offers data visualization/mapping. For an article on why you should care, see this Above the Law article from a couple days ago.

A collection of Kevin Rhodes’ Legal Connection blog posts for the past three years is now available in print from Amazon. Also available from Amazon as a Kindle, and as an ebook from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Scribd.

Patrick H. Hayes Appointed to 12th Judicial District Court

On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, the governor’s office announced Governor Hickenlooper’s appointment of Patrick H. Hayes to the district court bench in the Twelfth Judicial District. Hayes will fill a vacancy created by HB 15-1034, effective July 1, 2015.

Currently, Hayes is a county court judge in Rio Grande County, where he was appointed in 2011. He is also a Division 3 Water Referee. Prior to his appointment to the Rio Grande County Court, Hayes was in private practice at Hayes Law, P.C., where he practiced criminal defense. Hayes also served as Chief Deputy District Attorney in the San Luis Valley and was the juvenile court magistrate in Rio Grande County. He received his law degree, summa cum laude, from Oklahoma City University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Cameron University.

Tenth Circuit: Prejudgment Interest Due from Date Entitlement to Benefits Shown, Not Date of Breach

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Folks v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

Roberta Folks was injured in 1998 when, as a pedestrian, she was struck by the sideview mirror of a passing car. Ms. Folks received PIP benefits from State Farm, the driver’s insurer, until she exhausted the benefits in 2002. She joined a lawsuit seeking additional benefits in 2004, in which lawsuit she unsuccessfully attempted to certify a class three times. In response to her last failed attempt in 2011, the district court determined she failed to satisfy the requirements of Rule 23(a) and Rule 23(b)(2) and denied class certification. In 2012, a jury decided in Ms. Folks’ favor, and in 2013 the district court amended the judgment to correct errors in the damages calculation. Ms. Folks appealed, challenging the district court’s denial of class certification, calculation of treble damages for willful and wanton conduct, and calculation of prejudgment interest.

First examining Ms. Folks’ argument that the district court erred in finding Ms. Folks had not properly demonstrated relief was appropriate as to the class as a whole, the Tenth Circuit found the issue was not properly preserved for appeal. Although Ms. Folks pointed to several places in the record where she believes she sought class-wide notice, the Tenth Circuit determined that, because class-wide notice is different than notice apprising of a lawsuit, these claims were not preserved. Additionally, Ms. Folks did not show that she sought a certification ruling on class-wide notice, which waived the argument for purposes of appeal.

Turning to the calculation of damages in Ms. Folks’ individual case, the Tenth Circuit found the district court had correctly trebled only the $40,000 damage award for willful and wanton conduct under C.R.S. § 10-4-708(1.8) (now repealed). Ms. Folks argues the court should have trebled the damages and also applied the original damage award, for a total of $160,000, but the Tenth Circuit looked to prior circuit precedent and the Colorado Supreme Court to refute this claim.

Finally, the Tenth Circuit addressed the district court’s calculation of prejudgment interest, reviewing de novo the district court’s conclusion regarding the date of the breach. State Farm was obligated to pay benefits within 30 days after Ms. Folks demonstrated entitlement. The district court determined State Farm was first obligated to pay benefits on May 13, 2009, when she submitted documentation establishing she was entitled to benefits. Ms. Folks relied on the 2002 coverage exhaustion letter to establish the date of the breach, but statutorily prejudgment interest was due only from the date she established entitlement, not from the date of the original breach. The Tenth Circuit found Ms. Folks was not entitled to additional prejudgment interest.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/17/2015

On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and seven unpublished opinions.

Wideman v. Watson

Green v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Smith v. Global Staffing

United States v. Yepa

Ciancio v. Patton

Mata v. Jackson County Third Judicial District Court

Winston v. Martin

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.