Friday, May 21, 2010

The Deposition Experience

Today I sat in on the deposition of a woman whose medical records I had analyzed.  She was being deposed by the large company against whom she is bringing suit. To any legal nurse consultant who has never participated in this exercise, I highly recommend it. Of course, being neither the deponent nor the one taking the deposition, I was free to sit back and enjoy the show.

What was fun about this deposition? When you hear your observations being quoted directly in a question to the deponent, it takes your analysis out of the world of paper and connects it to the reality of the person involved. Even when you are sure of your work, you still hold your breath waiting to hear the reply you know should be forthcoming.

This deponent did not disappoint. She was an attorney representing herself, a choice I would not have made were I in her place. She was a master of obfuscation and passive aggression, managing to sound and seem concurrently ignorant, forgetful and clever. I actually admired her a bit.

I would never have the temerity to repeat a phrase six times that I knew the opposing counsel did not want to hear.

I would certainly never have asked opposing counsel to hand tally my medical bills if he wanted the sum that badly.

I would not have set the "land turtle-speed" record for timely responses. No answer was given directly. No opportunity was missed to appear confused and uninformed. No reply was given in under two minutes.

That particular shade of red in opposing counsel’s face would have alarmed me to no end.

This was nothing like the many deposition transcripts I have read, with compliant claimants whose attorneys have told them to “stick to the facts” and answer as briefly as possible.

I could not stay for the whole deposition, which my attorney-client assured her would take the entire seven hours allowed by Georgia law, given her style of response. She blamed him for this observation. She refused to allow her picture to be taken because she did not like the way she looked today. She offered a cell phone picture that was more flattering, but of course, the phone was dead and alas, the picture could not be retrieved.

Yes, it was an eye-opening event. I can’t wait to do it again.


  1. Alice,
    Every time I experience something new in our legal system, I am in awe of its creation and impact. Just like in nursing, as we learned how all the elements came together to a commodity called "care"; the legal system's elements come together for a commodity called "justice". I am so grateful for both communities--nursing and legal--that dedicate their lives to making ours better.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts as you experienced a new area of law...and how nursing supports the truth that must come out for justice to be done!

    Best to you,