Emotional Distress, Failure to Prosecute Lead to Malpractice Claims

Failure to Prosecute Leads to Malpractice Claim

A West Virginia man is suing his law firm with allegations of failing to prosecute properly and diligently.  Henry Martin engaged Neiswoger& White Law Offices in 2009 to lodge and pursue a claim against a racing commission on his behalf.  The law firm filed the lawsuit, but never pursued the matter, according to Martin.  The case was dismissed in 2011.

Martin explains in the lawsuit that the failure of the firm to take any action led to the dismissal.  The complain also alleges that the lawsuit in 2009 was filed after the statute of limitations expired.

While the details of this matter are unknown at this point, the law firm has none-the-less been sued and costs will begin to  incur.  Proper client intake procedures are vital to preventing malpractice suits.  It is best to note the intent of the client and their expectations when engaging them.  Clear documentation of the work product will lead to manageable deliverables and a tickler system can prevent missed deadlines or forgotten case work.

$172 Million Lawsuit filed against NY Law Firm

Hinman Howard & Kattell LLP has been served with a suit from the New York real estate investment group NHAOCG, LLC.   They allege that the law firm mishandled the structuring of a joint venture to invest in real estate, gave bad legal advice and as a result, caused the investment firm to lose out on the investment.

Real estate related claims have been noted as one of the leading causes of professional liability risks for law firms.  This case hints at 2013 continuing to be a year that brings in big names, and severe losses in this industry.  Protecting one’s firm from risks in this area is important for firms who deal with real estate transactions.  It is best to employ additional scrutiny of the final work product or implement a second partner review when engaged with a client who is in the real estate industry.

Emotional Distress Allowed as Damage in Lawsuit

In a first of its kind ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court allowed emotional distress to be admitted as damages in a malpractice suit against a law firm.  The claim arose when Michael Said, a Des Moines lawyer, was engaged to help a couple from Ecuador work on their citizenship.

The couple was in the USA undocumented and wanted to make their stay legal.  Mr. Said instructed the couple to return to Ecuador and have their son – who was a legal citizen of the United States – sponsor them as qualified relatives under immigration laws.  Once in Ecuador, their visas were denied by the American government and they were told they could not return to the states for 10 years.  They were separated from their family during this time.  The couple sued for legal malpractice but had their emotional distress damages kicked out by the lower courts.  However, the Supreme Court ruled that emotional distress could be admitted as damages and allowed the matter to continue.

While this precedent is unlikely to spread beyond Iowa for some time, it is important to note the environment law firms now operate in.  It is equally important to note that emotional distress is typically excluded from legal malpractice insurance policies, so any emotional distress damages would be paid out of the law firm’s own bank account.  Contact us to discuss ways to protect your firm from such lawsuits.

Contact ProtectLawyers.com today to discuss emerging risks and exposures today.