TranscriptPad for iPad Offers Powerful Mobile Transcript Review

By John M. LeBlanc

TranscriptPad is an elegant, fast and powerful transcript review app for the Apple iPad, designed specifically for the legal field, from the same folks who designed TrialPad, their flagship trial presentation and legal file management app. Similar software exists for your PC or Mac, such as the excellent Deposmart (from Clarity Legal), but TranscriptPad is the first dedicated transcript review and annotation app for the iPad. 

TranscriptPad accepts transcripts in .txt format, and exhibits in .pdf format. (Make sure you request the transcript in .txt format, as some court reporting agencies have their own proprietary format). The .txt format is a simple and relatively small file format that all court reporters can generate, and usually do so at no extra charge. Importing is a breeze, and can be done via email, Dropbox or even iTunes. I’ve uploaded multiple transcripts simultaneously, quickly and without any problems.

TranscriptPad

Transcripts are imported into case folders that you create and that are stored on your iPad. Opening a case folder reveals a deponent folder (created automatically upon import, with the deponent’s name and date of the deposition, along with the volume number). Multiple sessions of the same deponent are placed automatically in the deponent’s folder.

You can read a transcript hands-free by pressing the play button at the bottom of the screen, which allows you to adjust the speed. You can also flip back and forth as if you are reading a book (either in landscape or portrait orientation). 

Most attorneys like to annotate their transcript when reviewing, and here’s where the software really shows off. You can create your own “issue” codes to any part of the transcript. Issue codes can be assigned any name along with a choice of six colors, and appear in the margins of the transcript. You can also flag a portion of the transcript for later review. Issues codes, flags or any portion of the transcript can be emailed or exported to Dropbox. 

TranscriptPad contains a powerful search feature that allows you to search across any transcript or even multiple transcripts. Each hit is highlighted in the text, and you can create issue codes or flags from there, or email the section containing the search result. Detailed or summary reports of your issue codes, flags and searches are easily generated, and can be exported in .pdf or .txt format. 

TranscriptPad’s price tag is $49.99, which is pricey for an app, but on the other hand, this is robust and professional software. Similar software for the Mac or PC start at $200, and go much higher. For lawyers, paralegals, experts, in house counsel, and others who review and annotate transcripts, and who place a premium on mobility, TranscriptPad is a must. TranscriptPad can be found here (www.transcriptpad) and purchased in the Apple App store.

 Originally posted on Barger & Wolen's Life, Health & Disability Insurance Law blog.

Earliest Reasonable Offer Governs Cost Recovery Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 998

In Martinez v. Brownco Construction Co., 2012 DJDAR 1950 (2012), the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District clarified an important issue under the offer of judgment statute, California Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) Section 998.

The plaintiff suffered personal injuries in a work‑related accident. He and his wife sued Brownco Construction Co. (“Brownco”), an entity that did work at the construction site. The plaintiffs asserted claims for negligence and loss of consortium.

Subsequently, the plaintiffs served a statutory offer under CCP § 998 on the defendant to compromise for $4,750,000 for the negligence claim and $250,000 for the claim for loss of consortium. Brownco did not respond to the offers. Pursuant to the statute, the offers essentially lapsed and were deemed withdrawn by the terms of CCP § 998.

Subsequently, the plaintiffs prepared and served new Section 998 offers with one plaintiff (husband) offering to settle for $1,500,000, and the other for $100,000 (the wife) for the loss of consortium claim. Brownco did not respond to the second round of offers and they lapsed as well.

A jury trial then took place. The jury found Brownco 50 percent liable for the plaintiffs’ damages, and awarded the husband $1,646,674 and the wife $250,000 for loss of consortium. 

After the favorable verdicts, the plaintiffs pursued costs for expert fees incurred after their first Section 998 offers but before their second offers. The trial judge granted the defendant’s motion to tax costs, ruling that the wife was not entitled to costs incurred between the first and second offers. The plaintiffs appealed the ruling of the trial court.

The court of appeal partially reversed the ruling by the lower court. 

On appeal, Brownco argued that the second offer essentially superseded the first one. The court of appeal disagreed, explaining that when a party makes two Section 998 offers over 30 days apart, Section 998 entitles the offeror to cost shifting from the date of the earliest reasonable 998 offer. 

The case offers important strategic lessons for those who litigate in California state courts.

Nonpayment of Arbitration Fees Dooms Arbitral Award

In Cinel v. Christopher, 2012 DJDAR 2171 (2012), the Second District California Court of Appeal reviewed an order rendered by the trial court denying a petition to confirm an arbitration award.

A Brazilian citizen (the “investor”) purchased a large number of shares of stock from a closely held limited liability company (“LLC”). Richard Christopher (“Christopher”) was one of the founding members of the LLC which sold the stock to the investor.

After making three installment payments, the investor allegedly became concerned that the LLC’s financial condition was not favorable and that it was contrary to what had been represented to him. The investor filed a suit for securities fraud against Christopher and the other members of the LLC.

Because there was an arbitration clause in the applicable agreements, Christopher sought to compel arbitration of the dispute. However, after the defendants refused to pay the arbitration fees, the proceedings were suspended and eventually terminated.

The matter returned to trial court. Christopher moved for confirmation of the arbitration award. Christopher also moved to dismiss the complaint. The trial court found that there was no “arbitration award,” only a “termination order” and denied the motion. Christopher argued that the trial court could not review the merits of an arbitrator’s award in determining that it did not constitute an “award.” Christopher appealed the unfavorable ruling.

The court of appeal affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The court noted that under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1238.4, an arbitration award shall determine all the questions which must be decided in order to adequately decide the dispute. The court of appeal noted, however, that the arbitrator’s order at issue here did not address any substantive issues related to the dispute. The order merely refused to commence the proceedings for failure to pay fees. The court of appeal ruled that the trial court was correct in denying the petition to confirm.

 

Court is Entitled to Render Equitable Apportionment of Attorney Fees in Partition Action

In Lin v. Jeng, 2012 DJDAR 2498 (2012), the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District rendered a fee award based on equitable principles in a partition action involving a real estate dispute between family members.

The plaintiffs filed a partition action against other family members, alleging that they owned an undivided 85 percent interest in a residence. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants owned an undivided 15 percent interest in the house. The plaintiffs failed to name other family members as defendants who likely also had a property interest in the home.

The plaintiffs prayed for a sale of the home and a division of the proceeds. The other family members, who were not named as parties, filed a complaint in intervention, alleging that they also owned a property interest in the home. The trial court ruled that the plaintiffs were trustees of the property and that the intervenor parties owned the property as the beneficiaries of the trust.

After receiving the favorable ruling from the trial court on a bench trial, the defendants and the intervenors moved for attorney fees. The plaintiffs also filed their own fee petition. The trial court only granted the motion for fees filed by the defendants and the intervenors, apportioning the award of fees between them. The plaintiffs argued that the court erred in its application of Code of Civil Procedure Section 874.040, which governs the award of costs and fees in a partition action. An appeal was pursued by the plaintiffs.

The court of appeal affirmed the ruling of the lower court. The court of appeal focused on the provisions of C.C.P. § 874.040. 

Pursuant to that statute, the trial court must apportion the costs of partition among the parties based on their ownership interests or as required by equity. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued a “common benefit” theory, arguing the fee award should be apportioned amongst all of the parties.

The court of appeal disagreed and concluded that the trial court did not exceed its authority by awarding fees only to the defendants and the intervenors. 

The court pointed to the fact that the plaintiffs had actual knowledge that they were not entitled to an 85 percent share of the home. The court of appeal also specifically noted that the plaintiffs failed to name the siblings in the complaint, forcing them to intervene. Thus, the sole award of attorney fees to the defendants and the intervenor siblings was justified based on equitable considerations.