Is a Client’s Criminal Prosecution Foreseeable?

Professionals assume a duty of care to their clients.  Accordingly, professionals may be held liable for damages to clients that are proximately caused by their negligent acts.  In many cases, the link between the professional’s negligent act and the client’s injury is clear, such as a missed deadline that waives a client’s rights.  The limits of foreseeability become more difficult to define when the professional’s alleged misconduct triggers independent acts by third parties, such as a government investigation of the client.

In Kumaraperu v. Feldsted

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Photographs at Depositions?

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.

In …

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Professional Liability to Strangers

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.

The New York Court of Appeals recently decided one such case in Davis v. S. Nassau Communities Hospital.  In that case, a patient was treated …

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Dangers of Providing Advice Outside of Your Expertise

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.

In the subject case, a …

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Moonlighting: Perils of Working on the Side

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.

The debacle arose when a client brought a malpractice suit against two attorneys employed by a law firm. The plaintiff claimed that she was directed to …

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A Case of Black Robe Disease

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 …

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Transfer of Malpractice Claims? Sometimes…

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 …

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Lack of Leg Waxing License Puts Coverage at Risk

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.

A recent decision issued last month, involving the negligence of a beauty salon, highlights the potential liability facing all professionals and imparts important …

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Dentist Facing Criminal Charges for Exposing Thousands to HIV

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 …

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