New Law in PA: Quantum Meruit for Predecessor Counsel

In a recent decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court brought the commonwealth into line with the majority of states in allowing predecessor law firms to bring quantum meruit claims against substituted counsel. In the underlying case, the plaintiff’s claim was originally brought by an attorney at Firm A who then left for Firm B. While the plaintiff initially allowed Firm A to remain as co-counsel, the firm was eventually dismissed and the case settled. Firm A then sued Firm B to recoup a portion of …

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The Price of High Profile Investigations

With the recent wave of allegations concerning employment-related conduct, there may be in uptick of employers engaging outside firms to conduct internal investigations. While these can be kept in-house, high profile cases and social media often results in the publication of these reports to the public. Consider the NFL’s investigation of the Miami Dolphins known as “bullygate.”

In the Dolphins case, particular employees were identified as fostering a bullying culture and publicly identified in the conclusions. Although one of these employees had his …

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Microcaptives Create Headaches for Professionals

Captive insurance companies have long been a popular vehicle for companies that require insurance in areas where it is hard to find coverage. Although the IRS has been somewhat suspicious of captives for some time, it was not until the past several years that microcaptives, or captives for smaller companies, apparently piqued the interest of the IRS. After the Tax Court issued an opinion over the summer, several other similar cases have gone to trial and await opinion. The result of these cases will have …

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Guilt by Association

Making a referral is most often understood as a recommendation as to the quality of that professional’s services or products. In turn, there are different tort theories that are recognized in many states for negligence in doing so, and potential liability for the actions of a referred professional. What is far less common is to allow liability to flow through several parties even absent independent conduct or a theory of agency.

A recent New Jersey Appellate decision appears to do just that by holding a …

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Liability for Inadvertent Metadata Disclosure

In the modern practice of law, attorneys are expected to be familiar with discovery of electronically stored information.  Often this involves the production of files in their native format, which preserves metadata such as the document author, dates of creation and alterations, and where the document was stored.  Production of electronic information thus facilitates document review, but also could lead to the disclosure of information that is beyond the scope of permissible discovery.

In a recent opinion, the State Bar of Texas considered the …

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Don’t Forget to Read Your Pleadings

World Wrestling Entertainment is punching back in a class action lawsuit filed by several of its former wrestlers. However, the WWE’s recent court filings take aim at the plaintiffs’ attorneys as much as the plaintiffs’ legal claims. The case provides us with a timely example of the ramifications of failing to carefully read pleadings before filing.

The class action pending in Connecticut federal court resembles the NFL concussion lawsuits brought by former players alleging that the NFL hid knowledge of brain injuries that occur from …

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Attorneys Facing Addiction

It is an unfortunate reality that the legal profession reportedly has one of the highest levels of addiction of any occupation in the country.  Although many states maintain hotlines and other services available to attorneys, it is all too common that addiction struggles advance to the point where ethical violations result for the attorney.

In a recent case, the Indiana Supreme Court addressed a situation when an attorney was disbarred for stealing money from a township to support his gambling habit. The attorney served …

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Risks Facing Local Counsel

According to a recent Law360 article co-authored by a member of PL Matters, “the practice of law can be incredibly rewarding, yet it is fraught with risk. Those risks amplify when an attorney steps outside her primary practice area or fails to effectively communicate with the client. Serving as a local counsel can be beneficial to all — client, lead, and local counsel — as long as expectations and communication are clear.” In the article, the authors discuss the increased malpractice risks for attorneys …

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When Clients Turn on their Lawyers

Have you heard of the “Pharma Bro”; the CEO who, according to reports, notoriously purchased a drug used to treat AIDS patients only to dramatically increase its price? He’s made considerable press recently and now he’s turning on his lawyers. In a recent hearing, lawyers for pharmaceutical hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli requested a delay in scheduling trial as they contemplate asserting “reliance of counsel” as a defense.

Shkreli originally gained notoriety in 2015 when his biotech hedge fund purchased and immediately …

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Representation Could Go Farther Than You Think  

Hired for A but sued for Z? It may be a more common problem than you think. In overturning a lower court’s decision granting summary judgment, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has added yet more fuel to the fire in the ever-evolving debate as to the scope of representation. In a recent decision, an appellate court held that an attorney tasked with a seemingly simple and defined engagement, may actually be on the hook for much more. This serves as an …

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