Thursday, February 24, 2011

Musician’s Estate Files Legal Malpractice Claim

Mama Cass from the iconic musical group, the Mamas and the Papas, passed away in 1974. At that time, her attorney’s office informed her mother that Cass did not have a will with their office and failed to advise Cass’ mother of a large bank claim against the estate.

There have been allegations made of the firms’ ongoing legal relationships with one or more creditors filing claims against Cass’ estate, which the law firm failed to disclose. Once Cass’ mother discovered these conflicts, she fired the law firm as attorneys for the estate. It turns out that Cass did in fact draft a will, which her lawyers negligently failed to produce after her death. Under the will Cass intended to have her estate shared with her mother and her daughter. But due to the law firm’s negligence, Cass’ estate was not distributed in accordance with her will, but instead it was distributed according to the laws of intestate.

Now that Cass’ mother has passed away, her children have filed suit against Cass’ original attorneys claiming their mother lost the one third of Cass’ estate which was provided for in Cass’ will. They have filed claims of legal malpractice, negligent misrepresentation and fraud.

This goes to show that a law firm can be liable for legal malpractice for something as basic as failure to produce a will when it counts most. Mistakes like this case happen and our experienced attorneys can help you recover.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Best Case Forward at Trial

Once the decision has been made to put a case on at trial, there are many important pre-trial preparations that must be made. The lawyer will take the months leading up to the trial to get all of the evidence organized and line up all of the witnesses. Another important part of the trial preparation period is getting the client up to speed on the process and what to expect during the trial.

Mistakes can be made both during the trial preparation period and while the case is being presented at trial. For example, if the lawyer is unable to call main expert witnesses to testify at trial because of her failure to timely disclose the expert, and the client’s case suffers as a result, the lawyer may have committed legal malpractice.

If your lawyer failed to put your best case forward at trial, she may have committed legal malpractice and you may have options available to you, we can help.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Waiting too Long Can be Costly

If a lawyer does not file a case in time - the statute of limitations is blown. With very few exceptions that means the plaintiff (the person bringing the suit) has lost their rights. Sometimes there are ways around it such as the accidental failure of suits statute, or maybe a different claim can be brought. Just maybe there is more time on the statute of limitations, it is not always an easy calculation.

Years ago a client came in and said my lawyer told me he missed the statute of limitations and that I should get a lawyer to sue him. Well the lawyer did make a mistake, he used the wrong statute to figure the statute of limitations. It turned out there was plenty of time to sue. I told the client to go back to the lawyer and have them bring the claim. The lawyer said no - great news - have Stanger do it for you. We did and recovered a good deal of money for the client. The lawyer was not sued.

This demonstrates two things.

First even though the lawyer screwed up in his calculation there really was time for the client to still pursue the claim. Even though the lawyer screwed up there was no point in suing him as there was still plenty of time to sue the original defendant. The lawyers screw up did not cause any damage to the client other than a few scary days. Life is good - our client did well, we had a very happy client because we knew what we were doing and the system worked. The correct person was sued and paid - the one that really caused the damage.

Second if the lawyer had really blown the statute, eliminating the client's right to sue, he would have caused the damage and he would have been the right one to sue. We would have won that case as well. Our client would have been ok.

If you have questions about the statute of limitations, if you have lost confidence in your lawyer, or if your lawyer screwed up, contact our office, to discuss your legal malpractice options.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Settlement vs. Trial

Settlement talks and negotiations are an important tool in trying to obtain a positive resolution for clients. Lawyers often begin negotiations early on in the process and they continue right up until the jury goes in to deliberation. Many clients often prefer to have their case settle without having to go through the lengthy, expensive trial process.

However, sometimes settlement negotiations can reach a point where both parties are at a “stand off”. At that point, the lawyer and client must make a decision about whether or not to settle the case for the offered lesser amount or expend the time and money taking the case to trial to see what a jury would award.

There are many reasons to avoid going to trial, but a lawyer either not being prepared to go to trial or not wanting to go to trial are not appropriate reasons for a client to settle his or her case. Call another attorney before settling your case if there is a lot of pressure to settle. Article: If Talk Fails, Will Your Attorney Take Action?