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Litigating in Troubled Times: Technology Tips to Take a Top EUO

Sarah R. Goldberg and Jessica L. Murray | April 17, 2020

As reported in a piece we recently published, technology is playing a huge part in the way we are handling our files. Optimum ways to conduct Examinations Under Oath (EUOs), from a remote environment are now a necessity. Thanks to quick transitions made by court reporting services throughout the State of Florida, with a little planning, Examinations Under Oath (EUOs) can run smoothly and be very effective from anywhere in the virtual world.
 
Setting Up A Remote EUO

  1. Ensure all participants have a device with a camera and audio capability. A mobile phone works just as well as a computer/tablet, but a phone will be needed if using devices without microphones.
  2. Inform the court reporter that all involved parties will attend remotely, so they can send a secure link for all parties to click on and join the EUO. This link should be tested prior to the EUO to ensure there are no issues with connectivity.
 
Overcoming Two Primary Concerns 

  • Introducing and effectively using exhibits.
  • Gauging how the insured reacts to questions and answers to develop on-point follow up questions or make salient decisions from visual body clues.

The first concern simply requires planning. In most cases, documents are already maintained electronically. Pre-marked documents (bate stamped if a large document) can be sent to the court reporter prior to the EUO. During the EUO, the court reporter will assist in displaying each document for viewing either using the entire screen or splitting the screen. All parties will be able to see the document, and the deponent can be questioned about the document.
 
Now, what if your insured cannot video-conference? Telephonic EUOs and depositions are not new, however, many attorneys do not favor them. They cannot see what is happening in the room or the exhibits to confirm they are correct (bate stamping helps here). More importantly, they cannot see the insured to gauge his or her reaction to questions.
 
While the lack of face-to-face interaction is not ideal, with skilled lawyering, you can compensate for not seeing a person’s face or body language. Vocal inflections, the speed in which they answer, their non-answers and deflections, and their use of stalling words like “um,” can tell a lot. As for exhibits, properly stamping and/or marking them is especially important here as the markings will play a key role in confirming what the insured is looking at and testifying about the correct document.
 
Like anything else where you expect to have good results, practice makes perfect. Always test the technology ahead of time, ensure all important exhibits can be used, and remain flexible in adapting to new ways of completing an effective EUO for the benefit of your client.

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