All professionals must maintain and follow a clearly documented record retention policy. These policies are more stringent and regulated for some professions. Each of the 50 states maintain regulations governing work-paper ownership and record retention for accountants, for example. Attorneys, too, may be guided by fairly specific record retention policies pursuant to the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers state-by-state. Despite these regulations, all classes of professionals routinely face legal woes as a result of poor record retention compliance. This risk intensifies as a …Continue Reading
The New Mexico Supreme Court recently entered a decision with ramifications regarding conflicts of interest in law firms. The issue: may a firm cure a clear conflict of interest by erecting a “Chinese wall.” The lesson: Chinese walls are not as strong as they used to be and some conflicts may only be cured through the disqualification of counsel, and maybe the entire law firm.
The underlying dispute in Mercer v. Reynolds, concerned the interpretation of an easement. The plaintiff alleged that it was entitled …Continue Reading
The widow of a man killed in last year’s mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado has filed a lawsuit against the alleged gunman’s psychiatrist claiming she knew of his threats to harm others and failed to warn of the imminent danger. Issue: When is a psychiatrist obligated to warn the public of her client’s threats to the public? Lesson: Threats of imminent harm cannot be taken lightly and preventive measures should be taken despite the application of doctor-patient confidentiality.
The widow of Jonathan Blunk, who was …Continue Reading
Lance Armstrong’s legal team played a part in each of the racing metals, the Livestrong brand, the endorsements, the accusations, the denials and of course the many lawsuits he filed to defend his reputation. Frankly, in light of the recent confession on Oprah, Armstrong’s attorneys may be feeling a bit uncomfortable.
We now know that for years Armstrong was living a lie. Those lies filled court documents that were signed by various attorneys attesting to the truthfulness of Armstrong’s assertions. Those lies fueled settlements …Continue Reading
The first rule of engagement letters: obtain a signed engagement letter.
The second rule of engagement letters: obtain a signed engagement letter.
The remaining rules are a bit more complicated. A well written engagement letter is absolutely critical to managing risk. It defines the scope of the engagement and, as a result, sets appropriate expectations with the client. An engagement letter may help to discourage meritless malpractice claims and may serve as “Exhibit A” in a dispositive motion. On the other hand, the lack of …Continue Reading
New York’s high court recently concluded that a consensual relationship between a patient and her family doctor constituted medical malpractice. Issue: Whether a consensual sexual relationship between a married patient and her physician is grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Lesson: When possible, avoid sleeping with your clients.
The plaintiff, Kristen Dupree, sought treatment for gastrointestinal pain, depression, and stress from the defendant, Dr. James Giugliano, a licensed family physician with a concentration in osteopathic medicine. At the conclusion of the treatment, the parties …Continue Reading
A jury in West Virginia just awarded nearly $500,000 in favor of a transportation company for claims arising from an alleged conspiracy between two plaintiffs attorneys and a radiologist who fabricated asbestos claims. The issue: may an attorney be held liable for unfounded claims? The lesson: completely research the applicable law and facts before accepting an engagement to provide legal services.
CSX is a Pittsburgh rail-based transportation company that had been targeted for at least 10 asbestos claims by the same group of attorneys. Upon …Continue Reading
At least one of Penn State’s former attorneys is now under fire for her role in the investigation into the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The issue: did the attorney represent the University or its administrators? The lesson: document the scope of your representation.
Gary Schultz is the retired VP for business and finance at Penn State who has been accused of failing to report Sandusky’s acts and perjuring himself during grand jury testimony. But now it is Schultz who is on the offensive and the target …Continue Reading