Depositions generally involve a series of questions and answers between the deponent and counsel. At times, however, counsel may want to use the deposition as an opportunity to have the witness demonstrate a task or record physical characteristics of a witness. Conveniently, nearly all attorneys now carry a camera in their pocket, in the form of their mobile device. When capturing images or video during depositions, counsel must be careful not to violate a right to privacy, or cast them in an offensive manner.
Professionals owe their clients a duty to exercise the care, diligence, and skill expected of others in their profession in similar circumstances. Generally, the professional-client relationship defines the scope of this duty of care. However, in certain circumstances, the professional’s duty may extend to third parties, even complete strangers to the professional relationship. This is where things get tricky.
Today's lesson: stick with what you know. Clients may ask their commercial litigator for an assist with their cousin’s DUI. An estate attorney may feel inclined to advise a longstanding client about a trademark application. It is not uncommon for clients to seek input from their attorneys irrespective of whether the advice falls well outside of the attorney’s area of expertise. As a recent New Jersey case illustrates, the attorney’s best bet may be to refer the client elsewhere.
Moonlighting is the practice of working for more than one employer or working for yourself while working for an employer. Professionals who moonlight may be asking for trouble. Many employers have policies forbidding the practice, some going so far as to deem it grounds for immediate termination. A recent case provides an extreme example of moonlighting at its worst.
Judges are bound by a code of conduct in the jurisdiction where the judge sits. Like the code governing attorneys, judicial codes vary somewhat from state to state. There are ramifications for judges who break this code, some can be very severe. In the more common scenario, a judge may face criticism for conduct that may be perceived as an inappropriate use of the bench also known as “black robe disease,” when a judge lets her authority over the court go to her head. Take for example the Florida judge who was recently investigated for allegedly using the courtroom to publicize his political views.
Many states do not permit the assignment of legal malpractice claims. This anti-assignment rule is based on the well-rooted policy that legal malpractice claims are uniquely personal and therefore cannot be assigned. Since malpractice claims typically involve the nature of the attorney’s duty to the client and the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship, the theory goes that malpractice claims should not be subject to assignment out of fear of creating a "market" for these claims to the highest bidder. A recent decision suggests that there may be at least one exception to this rule.
The majority of professional liability lawsuits target attorneys, accountants, and physicians. But, there are a series of so-called “miscellaneous professionals” who also face malpractice exposure: marketing consultants, recruiters, travel agents…and even leg waxing professionals. Many professionals are licensed by the state to practice in their chosen field and the failure to obtain such a license may void any professional malpractice coverage.
As if the fear of a dentist’s chair wasn’t already bad enough… The Tulsa Health Department recently warned thousands of patients of a local dentist that they may have contracted HIV, hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C due to poorly cleaned dental instruments. Of the 3,122 patients tested thus far, 57 tested positive for hepatitis C, three tested positive for hepatitis B, and at least one person tested positive for HIV according to recent reports. The cause? Dr. W. Scott Harrington allegedly re-used needles and used rusty instruments on patients with known infectious diseases, which could have put many at risk, according to a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry.