Wanna be Starting Something? Michael Jackson’s Publicist files Legal Mal. Suit

Despite his untimely death, Michael Jackson continues to generate considerable media attention, tabloid fodder, and litigation.  Most recently, Jackson’s former publicist, Raymone K. Bain, filed a malpractice suit to recover from her former attorneys.  In Bain v. Gary Williams Parenti Watson & Gary PL et al., the King of Pop’s publicist alleges that her attorneys were negligent in a breach of contract suit she filed against Jackson in 2009.  According to the suit, Bain could not recover considerable royalties from Jackson associated with …

Continue Reading

Attorneys on the Move Leads to More Malpractice Claims

Legal malpractice claims are on the rise…again.  According to a recent study, lateral transitions by attorneys may be to blame.  Professionally Liability Matters previously discussed an uptick in malpractice claims, particularly those stemming from attorneys handling real estate matters.  However, a new survey released last week by Ames & Gough demonstrated an overall increase in legal malpractice claims and suggested that swapping firms is a main culprit.

Reportedly, the majority of major insurers surveyed reported an increase in malpractice claims in 2012.  Most stated that …

Continue Reading

Breach of Contract or Negligence: Does it Really Matter?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to entertain argument on an important appellate issue regarding the types of damages available to a plaintiff in a legal malpractice dispute.  The decision may also highlight the fundamental differences, if any, between a malpractice suit grounded in tort or contract. In 2006, a national law firm agreed to represent the plaintiffs in the sale of a company that had incurred over $2 million in unpaid taxes.  According to the plaintiffs, the law firm advised them that the …

Continue Reading

Collection Proceedings against Clients Often = Malpractice

Ever hear the cruel joke about a thankless client who achieves a wonderful settlement through her attorney’s legal prowess only to terminate the lawyer before the settlement ink is dry? Well, for some unfortunate attorneys it’s a reality. Attorneys in this pickle face the unenviable decision of whether to initiate a collection action against the former client to collect on unpaid legal bills or to sue under a quantum meruit theory. Reportedly, however, fee disputes are at the heart of a significant percentage of …

Continue Reading

OJ Simpson’s Bid for Freedom: It’s My Lawyer’s Fault

OJ Simpson’s fall from fame is well documented. The disgraced football running back’s latest legal woes stem from an altercation in a hotel room in which the Juice was allegedly joined by armed men. That story ended with his incarceration. Now, OJ is back in a Las Vegas courtroom with a new team of attorneys and a novel argument: Simpson’s former attorney is to blame for the 2008 conviction.  In the latest chapter in OJ’s lengthy legal history, the “Juice” claims that poor legal …

Continue Reading

Attorney Sued for Wrongful Death

One of the foundations of the attorney-client relationship is confidentiality.  Apart from limited exceptions, attorneys are generally precluded from disclosing a client’s confidential information to a third-party and must act at all times in the client’s best interest. It is well established that failure to do so may constitute an ethical violation and perhaps professional misconduct.   A recent $40 million lawsuit claims that an attorney’s breach of his client’s confidences led to the client’s murder. Uh oh.

A wrongful death suit filed last week by …

Continue Reading

Ignoring Prejudgment Interest = A Costly Mistake

Prejudgment interest awards are often overlooked in evaluating a claim, especially legal malpractice matters.  Typically, when valuing exposure, the focus centers upon the underlying action had the attorney avoided alleged negligence.  But overlooking the impact of prejudgment interest can prove to be a costly mistake. Depending upon the statutory interest rate in your jurisdiction and the potential amount of the award, prejudgment interest can transform a nuisance value malpractice case into a hefty judgment.

Consider Corsiatto v. Maddalone, March, 2013 N.Y.Slip. Op. 30553, (Sup. …

Continue Reading

Real Estate Transactions Pose the Greatest Risk of Attorney Malpractice

According to a recent study, real estate transactions pose the most risk to attorneys of a malpractice claim.  In its annual survey, the American Bar Association reported a higher percentage of professional liability claims stemming from real estate dealings than any other area.  Over the past several years, plaintiff personal injury claims topped the list, but to the joy of the plaintiff’s bar and the chagrin of real estate professionals, that trend is apparently changing.

The top three types of activity leading to the majority …

Continue Reading

Rutgers: Don’t Look at Me…My Lawyer Made Me Do It

As is so often the case, with mounting pressure and criticism comes finger-pointing. In the midst of a well-publicized scandal, Rutgers University is now suggesting that poor advice from its outside counsel led to a series of infamous decisions regarding its former basketball coach.  According to reports, as Rutgers’ athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned Friday amid the scandal over men’s basketball coach Mike Rice’s unorthodox practices, he blamed the school administration for following a “process” that allowed Rice to stay on-board. With its back …

Continue Reading

When Professional Misconduct = Unfair Trade Practices

The California Court of Appeals recently concluded that an attorney’s professional malpractice and ethical violations may give rise to liability for unfair trade practices.  In the underlying dispute, attorney Martin Guajardo, the sole shareholder in his own law firm, sold his practice because he faced disciplinary action brought by the state bar.  Although Attorney Guajardo ultimately resigned from the bar, he continued to practice law following the sale of his firm.  The People of the State of California filed a complaint against Guajardo, …

Continue Reading