Gavel on sounding block

Client Cleared of Malpractice, Wins Summary-Judgment Ruling

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A Pennsylvania attorney sued in connection with a workers’ compensation matter was cleared of legal malpractice and the suit against him was dismissed after a court agreed with the arguments put forth by Goldberg Segalla partner Seth L. Laver.

The case stemmed from the alleged injuries suffered by a hotel banquet worker who claimed his decade-plus career resulted in cumulative trauma to his back. The claimant eventually underwent surgery from which he sustained a serious infection, leading to a lengthy hospital stay.

Central to the case, Seth said, was the fact that the hotel at which the server worked had switched ownership during his employment.

One of the claimant’s employers was represented by our client, who concluded that it was the plaintiff/employer that was exclusively responsible for the worker’s injuries under the particulars of Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. That employer then turned around and sued our client, maintaining the prior employer was the one who should be held accountable for the award of more than $2 million sought by the worker.

The case went to mediation, which proved unsuccessful, and discovery closed.

Seth — a partner in the Goldberg Segalla’s Management and Professional Liability practice group — then moved for summary judgment, arguing our client’s conduct met the standard of care and was consistent with the applicable law.

The court agreed.

Seth — recently named vice chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Accountants Professional Liability practice — said an important component of his argument zeroed in on the fact the plaintiff had not established that a different result was possible in the underlying case.

Apart from speculation, Seth said there were no facts which, if presented in the underlying case, would have warranted a different outcome. Thus, he argued the plaintiff could not prove the “all-important ‘case-within-a-case,’” which is often the standard in legal malpractice disputes.

In securing the favorable ruling, Seth noted he was provided critical assistance from Goldberg Segalla attorney Jason S. Kaner, a member of the firm’s Management and Professional Liability group, who added exceptional value in evaluating the issues and developing a defense strategy, which helped lead to dismissal of the case.