| 1. Introduction|
The Litigators is a 2011 legal thriller novel by John Grisham, his 25th fiction novel overall. The Litigators is about a two-partner Chicago law firm attempting to strike it rich in a class action lawsuit over a cholesterol reduction drug by a major pharmaceutical drug company. The protagonist is a Harvard Law School grad big law firm burnout who stumbles upon the boutique and joins it only to find himself litigating against his old law firm in this case. The book is regarded as more humorous than most of Grisham's prior novels.
Critical reviews were mixed for the book, with several opinions noting a lack of suspense. Nonetheless, the book has achieved both hardcover and ebook #1 best seller status on various lists, including both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. However, since some services do not separate fiction and non-fiction books, it did not debut as a #1 bestseller on certain lists, such as the USA Today. Some reviewers noted that this story would lend itself to an adapted screenplay.
2. Plot Summary
Oscar Finley and Wally Figg are the bickering partners of a small law firm in the South Side of Chicago. Oscar's character holds the firm together despite the childish and unethical behavior of Wally, his junior partner. David Zinc, a formerly successful attorney, relegates himself to working as an associate with the firm. While Wally goes to a funeral home to attend the wake of a former estate client, the client's son claims that his father was killed by Krayoxx, a cholesterol-lowering drug developed by the fictional pharmaceutical company Varrick Labs. Ecstatic at the possible monetary returns on the case, the firm finds several former clients who appear to have valid claims about Krayoxx. Oscar and Wally generate publicity in the Chicago Tribune with a picture of their filing; this induces an avalanche of communications and leads them to several additional claimants.
Wally notices a blossoming class action lawsuit against Varrick Labs in Florida, and realizes that if he can find some patients to sign as clients, he can earn a big payday on another firm's coattails. However, some complications make the story interesting. Although none of the three Finley & Figg lawyers had previously argued in United States federal court, that is where they find themselves pitted against Zinc's old firm with this case. In fact, David's expertise was in long-term bonds.
Once the firm's claims become prominent, mass tort operators approach them about being part of a mass settlement. Wally flies to Las Vegas to meet the other mass tort interests, most notably Jerry Alisandros. Varrick's CEO flies to Chicago to meet Nadine Karros, a leading defense attorney, who works for Rogan Rothberg. Believing that they can get federal judge Harry Seawright to claim jurisdiction, Karros is chosen for her firms' ties to him and her expertise. The case is soon expedited on Seawright's docket with Finley & Figg's claim singled out of the tort claimants and Karros takes action to have Finley & Figg's eight death cases heard separately. Eventually, Alisandros learns that tests of Krayoxx yield benign results. Oscar and his wife, Paula, are often at odds, and as a large settlement looms, he attempts to divorce her and cash out. After settlement talks break down with Varrick, Alisandros withdraws as co-counsel and Finley & Figg motions to withdraw their claims.
Once at Finley & Figg, Zinc stumbles upon a lead poisoning brain damage case involving Burmese immigrants. He expends his own time and resources on their case. He also succeeds in representing immigrants in a labor law case. During the labor case, the employer attempted to have Finley & Figg's offices burned down and the would-be arsonist stumbled upon Oscar at the office. Oscar shot him and added an unnecessary debilitating shot that shattered his leg. He was sued for using excessive force.
With Varrick having spent 18 million dollars defending itself and the mass tort bar having vociferously discredited Krayoxx in the mass media, Karros motioned for frivolous lawsuit sanctions pending a withdrawn motion. Additionally, actions were initiated for legal malpractice regarding Wally's letters that promised 2 million dollar settlement followed by motions to dismiss without notifying his clients. After realizing that they could be sued for defense costs and malpractice for withdrawing the case, Finley & Figg withdraw their motions and agree to a jury trial that they believe to be futile. The trial opens as originally scheduled. During opening statements, Oscar suffered a myocardial infarction. Wally attempted to make light of the situation by proclaiming it an example of Krayoxx effects. Karros moved for mistrial and the motion was granted, leading to the need to pick a new jury. Wally stood in for Oscar as lead attorney while a new jury was seated and for the first day of testimony. The next day, the recovering alcoholic Figg was nowhere to be found although an empty pint bottle of Smirnoff Vodka was. After Wally was AWOL for a second day, David was pressed into service. Rueben Massey, Varrick's CEO, instructed Karros not to move for likely-successful summary judgment. Zinc declined to cross-examine the first handful of expert witnesses that Varrick called, Eventually, Zinc discredited Varrick's clinical trials during cross-examination of the final expert witness. Nonetheless, the jury rendered a very quick not guilty verdict.
Zinc continued to pursue the lead poisoning product liability case. He settled the case for $6.5 million (including $1.5 million in legal fees). David returns to the office and tells Oscar and Wally of his settlement. He tells them of his plan to split his earnings evenly with them. In return the three of them are to sign a 12-month contract to enter an equal partnership and will no longer be an ambulance-chasing firm. Oscar and Wally agree to the new contract. Later that year the partnership fell apart. Finley began spending less time in the office and eventually retired a happy man, Figg packed up and moved to Alaska, and Zinc opened his own product liability practice, David E. Zinc, Attorney-at-Law and hired Rochelle as his new secretary.