[Originally published at vikinglaw.us]
You’re suing in your hometown. Jurisdiction is clear. You have everything you need to get the ball rolling. There’s just one thing about it that differentiates it from the rest: the defendant is overseas. And that difference could mean a massive increase in the cost to litigate. A good chunk of that increase is wrapped up in serving process.
For the most part, this isn’t a deal-breaker. Serving abroad is not rocket science, frankly. Given a few extra hours, any lawyer can figure out how to do it, but compared to Paris (Texas), Paris (France) is an entirely different breed of cat. [Click here for the Secret Sauce recipe!]
Don’t use seven words when four will do.
— Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) to Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), Ocean’s Eleven, 2001
The easiest way to keep costs down is to keep the pleadings as short and sweet as possible. Translation often reflects the biggest share of the cost to serve abroad, so brief and succinct pleadings are the surest way to rein in costs. Federal notice pleading all but mandates such brevity—truly, unless the complaint involves several different issues, a federal case is bound to be short (likewise in notice-pleading states) in order comply with the rules. Fact-pleading states may be a different matter, but properly stating a claim does not require Tolstoy-esque storytelling. It also does not require reams of exhibits that will necessarily have to be admitted into evidence later.
Brevity is key. And often the toughest key for lawyers to sing in.
(For the record, the text above, including the Brad Pitt quote… 255 words. It is excruciating to just leave it at that.)
Image: Promotional material for Ocean’s Eleven (Warner Bros. Pictures, 2001). Lifted here as an homage to one of my favorite movies. It happens to be on Amazon Prime right now, and this was a really short blog, so go watch it. Your cool factor will increase.