This month I traveled to Minneapolis to take the deposition of the CEO of Metronc Corporation, one of the largest medical device companies in the world with offices in one and twenty countries. The case involves a lawsuit against the company for the failure of an insulin pump after the user exposed it to an MRI device. The company lawyers fought this deposition. He had only been deposed once before. They moved to quash with the discovery master and from his denial of their motion to the trial judge. From the to the Court of Appeals, whose Commissioner denied their motion and then to the Court itself. From that denial to the state Supreme Court and when turned down back to the trial judge who again denied the motion. I know I’ve described before my procedure for deposition preparation, but given the importance of this one let me tell you what I did to prepare for the CEO’s deposition.
How did I prepare for this important deposition?I went through all of the relevant discovery materials we had collected and decided whether to use them or not. If so, they went in my temporary deposition exhibit expansion file. I went through the Requests for Admission and Interrogatories for any that were relevant but that the defendants had not answered. I incorporated those under the topic "admissions" to re-ask the CEO. I went to the company website. A wonderful source of helpful information about the identification of the company executives, a biography of the CEO, photos of the company headquarters, the CEO annual talk to shareholders, background information about the product and much much more. These were copied to be used as exhibits. I checked the internet and gathered information about the company and the CEO. His annual earnings from the Forbes site, the fact he had recently decide to resign and a considerable amount of other information about the product, the CEO and the company. I reviewed some key company depositions and took relevant excerpts I wanted to ask him about. I reviewed our focus st udies for possible "rules" and issues. I reviewed all of the material I could find on general rules of safety for a company like this and developed a long list to ask him about.
From this information I decided what sequence to ask about and what exhibits to use. I prepared an outline of each topic and the questions under that as well as the identification of exhibits to use with that topic. I then organized it all for use at the deposition with the least amount of wasted time or confusion.
I had with me at the deposition a two prong notebook with five dividers and numerical dividers 1 – 25 plus an expansion folder of exhibits. The notebook had a divider "examination" and behind that was my examination outline for questioning the witness.Each divider was a general subject I intended to question about and there was an index to thenumerical dividers.
My examination outline had headings and for each heading (which I’ve outlined below) there was either a divider or a numberical divider. The outline topic identified the divider or the numberical divider where information about that topic was located. The outline would also identify the file folder number where the exhibit was kept in the expansion folder.The expansion folder had individual files. Each file had a number to correspond to the number on my examinationoutline. All I had to do was find that file number and pull the file folder from the expansion folderto get the exhibit for deposition use. I arranged the files in the expansion folder in numerical order for ease of use. The examination outline was organized in the sequence of subjects I wanted and gave the file needed for any document that was located in the expansion folder.
Every exhibit in the file folder had enough copies for each of the defense lawyers.After the deposition exhibit was marked I would hand it to the witness and give copies to defense counsel to save time and discussion.
I was careful to write the exhibit number on my copy in the notebook so I would later be able to know the exhibit numbers for the documents. I made sure the exhibits had page numbers or bates stamps or I would add them to save time indicating where I wanted to discuss something in the exhbit, also to save time.
Here are the examination headings by topic. It will give you some idea of how I decided to proceed with this witness.
1.Head of Corporation Job title. "Buck stops here" Speaks for corporation
2.Vital Statistics birth date, marital etc.
3.Past deposition or trial experience
4.Preparation for deposition What did he read or do to prepare for this deposition
5.Knowledge of Washington State What experience or knowledge about state where injury happened
6.Contact with Plaintiff Any calls or letters or communication with injured plaintiff (did he say "sorry"?)
7.Understanding of facts What does he understood happened here
8.Opinions or conclusions Does he think corporation has any responsiblity? Plaintiff? Explain why
9.Admissions (their lawyers had objected or denied requestions for admissions so I re-asked him
10.General questions These are a series of "rules" e.g. a medical device company must never needlesslyput a user of its products in danger from using it and protection of users from injuries is a top priority etc.
11.Corporation a) arerial photo of main company campus b) world wide locations c) speech toshareholders re company size and profits b) company policy of honesty & inegrity plus user safety
12.Leadership list and photos of all corporate officers and board
13.Company testing standards Internal document regarding safety testing for it’s products
14.ISO standards applicable to this product
16.Warnings a) actions of a competitor when similar problem discovered & inaction by this company b)Warning letters sent c) recall information d) internal memos
17.User Guide Warnings in original user guide compared to warnings after injury
18.Complaint file regarding this pump and people exposing to MRI
19.TestingWhat testing showed
20.Other company employee deposition testimony Did he agree
21.Risk analysis Procedure to analizing the risk from medical devices and this product
22.Conclusion General questions about making product fail safe and ease of correcting problem
There a lot of ways toprepare and organize for depositions depending upon who is being deposed and the subject matter, but this is onesimple way to go about it.