In the comments section at Sebastian Holsclaw's, following a long discussion of the recent Mello-Studdert study on medical malpractice, talk turns to the practice of naming every doctor in the vicinity as a defendant when filing a medical liability claim. A couple of trial lawyer advocates defend that unsavory practice, and Holsclaw responds (via Rovito):
The problem is that extraneous defendants are often not dropped quickly. In many complex cases you can't possibly get through the discovery phases without plunking down huge amounts of money. Maybe I've just been remarkably unlucky, but when I've worked on the defense side the vast majority of cases involved defending people who were just tack-on defendants. In all of these cases $30-60,000 (in fees) was spent before the defendants could get out of the case. Often an additional sum (usually in the $5-10,000 range) was paid to stop the bleeding even though everyone (including/especially the plaintiff's attorney) that the defendant would never be found liable. One plaintiff's attorney was well known to push for largish settlements from innocent parties -- if you refused he would drag you until the day of trial (throwing up just enough smoke to avoid summary judgment) and then drop you without comment on the morning of the trial (after you had incurred all the expense of expert retention, expert testing and all of the trial preparation). It is the kind of thing that gives lawyers a bad name, but it happens in every city.