Monday, June 27, 2011

Careless E-Mailing Leads to Disqualification

In-house counsel in California has been temporarily disqualified after they intercepted and used information contained in privileged e-mails which they received accidentally. Counsel for the plaintiff sent several privileged e-mails to individual plaintiffs suing their former company. These e-mail included sensitive documents, including a draft declaration. The problem is counsel for the plaintiff mistakenly sent these documents to one client’s former work e-mail address, which the company they were suing still maintained and monitored. In-house counsel for the company reviewed the e-mails sent by plaintiff’s counsel and allegedly used the information contained therein to construct a counterclaim against the plaintiffs.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a temporary protective order disqualifying the company’s outside counsel and ordering the company to retain alternate counsel who would be required to submit a new declaration indicating that new counsel has received no information regarding the mistakenly disclosed privileged information. The Court also disqualified the in-house counsel who reviewed the privileged e-mail correspondence. Finally, the Court ordered the company to dismiss its counterclaim, without prejudice, so that it could be re-filed by new counsel without reference to the privileged information.

It is obvious from this recent court ruling that attorneys need to be careful if they inadvertently come into contact with privileged information. Given the new technologies available, this problem has the increased possibility of becoming more widespread. Contact our office to get more information about your potential legal malpractice claim.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New York Lawyers Sanctioned $15,000

A New York law firm is now paying the price because it knew that their client was lying and they used that lie to try to get a bigger settlement for their client. The firm represented a client in an employment discrimination suit. The firms’ problems arose once they knew that their client had obtained a new job and they not only failed to disclose this information to the opposing firm, they allowed their client to conceal that information under oath. The firm allowed their client to testify during her deposition that she was still waiting for a call back about a new job opportunity even though, two weeks prior to her deposition, she was awarded and accepted the position.

The Court ordered the law firm to pay $15,000 to the opposing firm representing the former employer. The client was also ordered to pay $2,500 to her former employer’s firm. The Court did note in its opinion that although the opposing law firm suffered harm, the real harm was against the judicial system and the judicial process itself. The opposing law firm also filed a motion to dismiss the employment discrimination action which the court denied.

The Court ultimately held that the testimony their client gave under oath was false, and that it was obvious based on the prior questions that the opposing firm was trying to determine whether or not she had obtained new employment. The law firm could have disclosed their client’s new employment to the opposing firm but elected not to in an effort to try to obtain a higher settlement for their client.

This Court is making a point of showing other lawyers that misleading or false statements will not be tolerated and can be quite costly. To read the full story, click here. Contact our office to get more information about your potential legal malpractice claim.

Monday, June 6, 2011

But My Lawyer Told Me So

One of the things lawyers are known best for is their ability to listen to a client’s situation and advise him or her accordingly. Being that the client probably doesn’t have prior experience in the legal system, the lawyer’s advice is held in very high regard. Since the lawyer’s advice is often followed to the letter, it is imperative that the lawyer do the proper amount of research into the situation before dispensing appropriate advice.

Sometimes lawyers think they already know everything there is to know about an area of law and may not perform the diligent research they normally would if they were dealing with an unfamiliar with an area of law. The problem with this is that the law is always changing. New cases come up every day so it is important that lawyers fully investigate before advising a client.

If you lawyer gave you bad advice which cost you in your lawsuit, contact our office to discuss your legal malpractice options.