When Negligence is a Crime: Part II

In a prior post, we discussed When Negligence = Murder and profiled a building defect dispute which resulted in the death of a firefighter. In a similar vein, a nurse’s refusal to perform CPR on a collapsed woman dying in a California independent living complex has launched a criminal investigation and sparks new concerns about protocols at independent living facilities. State officials in California are taking a close look at the nurse’s conduct and at retirement facility policies after a lengthy 911 call was released in which an emergency dispatcher is heard pleading with a facility nurse to provide CPR on the dying resident. The nurse’s refusal to attempt resuscitation has opened the door to inquiries about the facility’s protocol and about potential civil and/or criminal liability for failing to render adequate care.
Continue reading...

The Yahoo! Decision: Telecommuting Issues Facing All Employers

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer recently made headlines for doing away with the company’s telecommuting policy and requiring all employees to report for work at their respective offices. Reportedly, Yahoo! was suffering from “productivity” issues with many of its employees who were working from home. While employee productivity is always of paramount importance to employers, telecommuting also poses a variety of legal risks that can similarly affect an employer’s bottom line. Some of the most common legal issues facing employers will be addressed here.
Continue reading...

Lindsay Lohan’s Legal Lesson

Last week Lindsay Lohan provided a valuable lesson for the professional liability community. It’s true. The lesson arises from Lohan’s recently dismissed lawsuit against rapper Pitbull. Adding insult to injury, the court tossed the suit and sanctioned Lohan’s lawyer for improperly submitting a brief that contained plagiarized, “cut-and-paste” content. You can’t make this stuff up.
Continue reading...

Yeah, But I Didn’t Read My Insurance Policy…

A recent decision confirms that failure to read the fine print is not a valid defense. The Mississippi Supreme Court recently ruled that the owner of two nursing homes was required to pay a $1.25 million deductible despite claiming it was unaware of the high deductible. The insurance policy issued by Lloyd’s of London contained a $250,000 per-claim deductible. Since the nursing homes were named in five separate professional liability suits, and each of which was considered a separate "claim," the policyholder was forced to pay a $1.25 million deductible.
Continue reading...

When Negligence = Murder: Building Defects Result in Manslaughter Charges

An architect faces criminal manslaughter charges arising from the death of an LA firefighter who died attempting to control a blaze that engulfed the defendant architect’s multi-million dollar home. This case raises an unprecedented issue: Can defective design lead to criminal liability? Apparently, the answer is “yes” if the defect is the result of gross negligence.
Continue reading...

Clients of a Certain Age: Particular Issues when Representing the Elderly

A recent South Dakota Supreme Court decision serves as a reminder of some of the ethical issues and pitfalls when representing an elderly client. Unlike some of our posts which apply to a particular specialty, the potential for hiccups arising from representing the elderly impacts all professionals: accountants and attorneys, real estate professionals, brokers of all sorts, to name a few. The lesson is often the same: be particularly wary when representing an elderly client to avoid a potential malpractice suit or ethical problem.
Continue reading...

An Unsavory Brew: Yuengling Sued for $6.6 Million in Back Taxes

With tax season upon us, tax professionals may cringe at another example of the potential for malpractice arising from questionable tax advice. However, America’s Oldest Brewery is in the midst of a very public dispute with the City of Brotherly Love regarding allegedly unpaid taxes. The City of Philadelphia recently sued Yuengling in an attempt to recover $6.6 million in back taxes, interest, and penalties allegedly owed to the City. Although Yuengling is located outside of Philadelphia, the City contends that the brewery failed to pay a tax imposed on entities that regularly conduct business in the City. Yuengling has vowed to vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit.
Continue reading...

ABA says Attorney-to-In-House Attorney Consultation should be Privileged

In a recently published amicus opinion, the ABA took a stand for its position that the attorney-client privilege should protect from disclosure communications between an attorney and her in-house counsel, even if the two attorneys are colleagues. In most scenarios, inter-office communications are discoverable. Privilege may not apply when attorneys consult amongst themselves. On the other end of the spectrum, consultation between client and outside counsel is usually protected from disclosure. However, the ABA’s recent amicus opinion focuses on the narrow situation when an attorney consults with a member of her firm’s designated in-house counsel. Read on for the ABA’s argument.
Continue reading...

Thou Shalt Timely Report All Claims

A recent decision before the Nevada Supreme Court highlights the importance of timely reporting all claims. The issue: is a carrier’s “constructive notice” of a potential claim sufficient to trigger coverage? Lesson: all professionals must have a firm grasp of the reporting requirements under their professional malpractice policy or risk denial of coverage. The Nevada Supreme Court’s decision in Physicians Insurance Co. v. Williams raises the all-important question: must all professionals, even pill-poppers and cocaine abusers, provide their insurance representative with timely notice of a claim? This decision also clarifies that the reporting requirement is not excused even if the insurer had independently learned of a potential claim.
Continue reading...

Why Avoiding the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ May Have Caused Increased Risks to CPAs

We avoided the fiscal cliff. That is old news and, for most Americans, it is also good news. But, the developing fallout and the impact of Congresses’ eleventh-hour solution has particular implications on accountants gearing up for tax season. On January 2, 2013 Congress enacted the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012; a fiscal cliff tax package whopper which effectively changed the rule-book. At a time of year when accountants across the country are typically saying "so long" to their families to prepare for the hibernation that is tax-season, this year’s crop of tax-preparers is stuck in its tracks waiting for the IRS to issue updated software. From a professional liability and risk management standpoint, this is troublesome.
Continue reading...