Sunday, October 13, 2013

Making a Case For New Thinking About Whistleblowing & Retaliation

It is sweet and simple, there are laws designed to protect Whistleblowers. There are laws that reward whistleblowers with lots and lots of money. Yet we hear about people going to jail or being sued for doing what you or I may consider blowing the whistle on some wrong or injustice. The fact is that like most things in our society there are laws which proscribe how something has to be done. Bottom line - if you think you could be a whistleblower, call an attorney first to figure out if you are protected and if so is there any special way you have to do it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Medical Malpractice in the Outpatient Setting

JAMA a well-respected medical journal, recently included a commentary on studies of Medical Malpractice cases filed in one year in Massachusetts. Although not the general focus of the article there was an interesting fact that is consistent with what we have seen in many of the Medical Malpractice cases that we have handled. 72% of medical malpractice claims against general internists and family physicians in Massachusetts are claims of a failure to diagnose. In simple terms almost three quarters of the malpractice claims against the first line of medical defense, the family Doc, are related to a doctor saying don’t worry about that, or not catching something he/she should have caught. The malpractice claims against these Family Docs and Internists were against less than 4% of the Docs. So an individual’s risk is very low.

One way that you can protect yourself from being a victim of Malpractice, is to not only to give a sigh of relief when a Doc tells you not to worry about this or that. Rather if you think it may be bad, seek a second opinion. If possible go to a doctor experienced in that particular issue. You wouldn't trust your malpractice claim to just any lawyer; in the same way you should be careful not to trust your deepest concerns to just any doctor.

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Estimate: Over 400,000 May Die Each Year In U.S. Due To Hospital Mistakes

The number will never be certain but it is clear hundreds of thousands of people die prematurely due to what most people call medical malpractice of Hospitals. The Office of Inspector General of the US Department of Health estimated 180,000 Medicare patients die annually from causes associated with Hospital errors (Medical Malpractice Lawyers). A 2013 study suggests that there are 400,000, yes Four Hundred Thousand “premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients” in Hospitals.

We hear much in the news about those in this country who do not have access to medical care. We hear more about how we have the most expensive health care system.

If you or a loved one are the victims of medical malpractice, call us, we will help you understand your rights.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Jury Duty Is More Than Just A Civic Duty

Every year in Connecticut, more than half a million citizens are selected for jury duty. While most jurors slog through the process without much joy, jury participation is absolutely essential to our judicial system and our Democratic form of government.

The Constitution mandates that every individual who faces incarceration for more than six months has a right to a jury trial, but juries are often available in civil cases as well.(Non-jury cases are heard only before a judge and are referred to as “bench trials.”) To guarantee a fair trial for all parties, the potential jurors (a.k.a. the “jury pool”) are selected from a cross-section of the community. Prior to trial, each party has an opportunity to examine the jury pool to ensure that none of the jurors has any prior knowledge or bias regarding the case or parties to the case. From here, the court seats a jury of no less than six and no more than twelve citizens who will hear and ultimately decide the case.

Being judged by a panel of peers is just one characteristic that sets our judicial system apart from many other judicial systems around the world. Jury service is more than just fulfilling your civic duty—it’s what America is all about. Next time you’re randomly selected for jury duty don’t forget that your service is indispensable to the judicial system and to your peers who may be involved in a trial.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Legal Malpractice Arising Under Federal Laws

There are state courts and there are federal courts. There are state laws and there are federal laws. In most situations a dispute regarding a violation of a state law is brought in state court, and you guessed it, a violation of federal law is brought in state court.

What happens when a lawyer commits malpractice while pursuing a case regarding federal law in a federal court? Because the error occurred in federal court and involved federal law it could be that the malpractice case now has to be brought in federal court not in state court. The Supreme Court of the United States dealt with that issue this year and rendered a decision that says it depends on four factors. The factors are somewhat technical.

1. Necessarily raised under the federal law.
2. Actually disputed.
3. Substantial
4. Resolving in federal court would not disrupt the Congress’ federal-state balance.

If you hire a lawyer to sue your last lawyer make sure he or she understands the various nuances of your case.

If you have been injured by a lawyer who committed malpractice don’t get hurt twice by going to a new lawyer who is not experienced in bringing malpractice claims against a lawyer. Call us, if we take your case it will be because we think you have a good case and we will do the right thing, help you to prove your case. 860-561-0651.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Very few lawyers handle cases against professionals on a regular basis, we do.   We handle claims against accountants, doctors, lawyers, engineers as well as other types of litigation.  Although we sue other professionals on a regular basis, one area that we focus on is suing lawyers for committing legal malpractice. 

What to look for when hiring a lawyer to sue another lawyer. 
1.       Have they sued lawyers before?  There are some important unique rules having to do with suing lawyers.  You have already been hurt by a lawyer who did not know what they were doing, don’t let it happen again.

2.       Are they prepared to take the case to court if the other side won’t pay a fair settlement?

3.       Do they think you have a good case?  Why?  Be concerned about a lawyer who says she knows all about the law having to do with the screw up of the professional you have a claim against.  You want to hire a lawyer who understands the law of malpractice.  The lawyer you hire should help you understand what experts (often lawyers) are needed to prove your case.  To bring a case of malpractice your lawyer MUST retain an expert outside of the firm she is practicing in, who knows the professional responsibility of the specific area of law that the case is about.  For example a real estate lawyer if it was a closing, or a securities lawyer if the underlying transaction was related to a securities deal must be hired to act as an expert.  The courts will not allow the case to proceed without an expert, except in the rarest of cases.  The lawyer representing you in the malpractice case is simply not permitted to offer her opinion as to what your first lawyer did wrong. 

4.       Does the lawyer you are hiring have a wide web of friends and colleagues they can call upon to act as an expert.

5.       Does the lawyer you are hiring have other lawyers and paralegals who are experienced in legal malpractice?  Two heads are better than one.

6.       As with anyone you hire, do you feel that she is willing to take the time to clearly explain to you how the case will likely evolve if you hire her.

Call us anytime and let me know how I do in meeting the criteria I suggest above.   Bruce Stanger, 860-561-0651

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Caring Over Anger Often Wins The Day

My response to The Wall Street Journals article on: "Lawyers Behaving Badly Get A Dressing Down From Civility Cops".

In his plea for damages for the permanent disfigurement of his client, the story goes that a Hartford area lawyer decades ago got up for closing argument and sang a few bars of I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face to the jury. It was not the stormy rhetoric that you often see in TV dramas.

Early in my career, in the 70's, I was suing the manufacturer for what we claimed was a defective truck that my client was driving when a crash occurred killing a passenger in a car her truck hit. My clients physical injury was limited to difficulty with her hand which caused her to drop things. Yet her emotional injury from the allegations that it was her negligence that caused the crash, and the death of the innocent passenger, were very real. I was young and new in the office, it was considered a small case because the physical and medical damages (what we call hard damages) were small. So they gave it to the new kid, me 40 years ago. When it came time for closing argument I stood, dropped a piece of paper and said what do think Joyce (name changed here) relived each time she dropped something because of her injury on that awful day. I sat down. The jury understood and rendered a verdict for ten times the amount the judge had suggested my client should take in settlement. I was hooked, trying cases was challenging and rewarding. I could have done a closing argument filled with anger and frustration with the truck manufacturer, but I sensed a better approach was to be sure the Jury truly understood the nature of my clients ongoing injury.

Stormy rhetoric makes good TV, and sometimes it is critical in a court room or in a negotiation. But more times than not civility and caring are the tools a lawyer should be using to persuade the other side in a negotiation/mediation or the Jury in a trial. Unfortunately many of our lawyers and possibly our society have lost a real understanding of what it takes to earn the respect and understanding of others. Lack of civility is a serious problem that bar associations have been trying to deal with.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Should Lance Armstrong Sue His Lawyers?

There were lawsuits against Lance Armstrong before he went on Oprah, but more after. Reported to be worth over 125 million dollars it is a good bet that Armstrong consulted with his lawyers and PR consultants about what he would and would not admit to on television.

Connecticut does not allow the jury to hear an admission by the party being sued with one major exception. If a lawyer says I am sorry I screwed up it goes into evidence. If a driver of a car who causes an accident says he was drunk it goes into evidence. But if a doctor says sorry I amputated the wrong leg it does not go into evidence. The doctors and hospitals got our legislature to bar evidence of apologies or admissions by doctors because they have long known that patients who feel loved and taken care of or at least if they feel the doc was straight with them are more likely to forgive and forget. So was it the PR advisors or the lawyers who told Armstrong to come clean to avoid being sued. I doubt it. It is hard to believe that they thought these big corporations and the US government would not sue. The suits have been reported to claim 100 million dollars. Showing some love would not be enough.

Did Armstrong's lawyers intend to influence the jurors? If you believe as I do that the tide of public opinion had turned overwhelmingly towards a belief that Armstrong was a liar, then I would not be surprised if the lawyers were thinking long term. Big cases often include focus groups. We use them, see our article "Let Them Mock You". I wouldn't be surprised if the lawyers told Armstrong he had to do something to sway public opinion. He had already done the non-profit thing and he had the sympathy of surviving cancer, short of single handed rescue of many children and pets from a burning building or rescuing a score of people from a flood of epic proportions, what could he do but admit what he had done. Oddly I didn't hear a true "I am sorry", nor did I hear "I shamed myself, my sport and all those that I cared for.." But maybe that was too much to expect even if it could have been a shot at trying to garner favor with those who may later get to judge him.

Lets go forward in time, imagine that Armstrong is on the witness stand and is being pounded by the lawyer for the US government pointing to the clause in the contract Armstrong signed where he promised he would not do anything to shame the good name of the Postal Service (I am assuming the contract was very clear). The lawyer drives home the point that Armstrong denied for years what he later admitted on Oprah; that he cheated. Armstrong may be wondering, if his lawyers advised him to come clean on Oprah, why he listened to them. To answer the question of whether Armstrong should sue his lawyer if the lawyer told him to come clean; my answer is a simple no way. Who is going to think Armstrong was wronged by a lawyer; there is a bad lawyer joke in comparing Armstrong and a lawyer. Who knows how things would have turned out if people perceived Armstrong as truly repentant? Can Armstrong really show he was damaged by telling the truth, a necessary element of a Malpractice claim? Is a jury really going to want to side with the cheater over the lawyer?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A funny thing happened recently..

A funny thing happened recently... We are in the process of interviewing lawyers to hire an associate. I was calling the former employer of one of the candidates. I left a message for the former employer, a lawyer who I do not know, indicating my name and that it was a personal or sensitive matter. When the lawyer called back I told her that I was calling for a reference regarding the job candidate. She responded with a sigh of relief saying she was so nervous calling me back as she assumed I was calling to tell her we were bringing a malpractice case against her. We had a good laugh. I guess my reputation precedes me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

We Sue Lawyers

WE SUE LAWYERS – it is odd going to bar association meetings and seeing other lawyers who I have sued for damages when they have screwed up. Some ignore me, others are apologetic, acknowledge that they made a mistake and even refer others to us when they come across a situation where their client was the victim of the malpractice of another lawyer. I am proud of the fact that we sue lawyers, times have changed, lawyers need to do the right thing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We Sue Lawyers - Legal Malpractice

WE SUE LAWYERS - many years ago I asked a doctor friend to offer an opinion on a case. I was evaluating a medical malpractice case where our client was probably the victim of Medical Malpractice. We were sitting on a dock, where I kept my sailboat. I call this my Doc on a Dock revelation. He said he would never testify against a fellow doctor and then asked me “when is the last time you sued a lawyer”. I had never sued a lawyer. But starting that day I stopped looking the other way and I started taking on Legal Malpractice claims. We sue lawyers, something I am proud to say. If a lawyer screws up and it causes damage a lawyer should step up and do the right thing. Times have changed, lawyers should represent injured parties and Sue the lawyer for the damages he or she caused by their negligence.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Has Your Lawyer Settled A Case Without Your Authorization?

Almost two decades ago, Harry H. Schneider Jr., a partner at Perkins Coie in Seattle, published his “Top Ten” list of Legal Malpractice in the March 1994 issue of the American Bar Association Journal. Entitled See You In Court, Follow These Ten Rules and You, Too, Can Be Sued for Malpractice, this article touched on many malpractice issues that remain relevant to this day. Number nine on the list was: “Settle a Matter Without Written Authorization From Your Client.” For what it’s worth, if we had written this list, we would have may have ranked this rule higher.

Although some lawyers require their clients to sign contingency agreements allowing the lawyer to settle without the client’s consent, generally the decision to settle is the client’s and the client’s alone. If your lawyer settled behind your back to make a quick buck, check your contingency agreement. Or better yet, bring it to us. We’ll take a look and let you know if you've got a case.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Who’s the Boss?

Has your lawyer ever convinced you to take an action against your better judgement? Have you ever been convinced to follow what you thought was sound lawyerly advice only to find out that this “advice” prejudiced you or cost you a significant chunk of change? Well, it may come as a surprise, but your lawyer is professionally and ethically required to follow your instructions. You make the decisions regarding your representation, not your lawyer.

A lawyer’s job is to help you navigate the labyrinth that is our legal system. Of course, a lawyer’s familiarity with the legal process enables that lawyer to make informed decisions regarding your case but the final decision is yours and yours alone. If you've ever been pressured to settle a case when you wanted to go to trial or if you've been convinced to change your position against your better judgement you may be able to recover damages against your former attorney. Remember, your lawyer works for you, not the other way around. At Stanger law, we’re ready to work for you. Call us, we can help.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lawyers Suing Lawyers

Any time a person is injured due to medical malpractice the victim contacts a lawyer to evaluate the claim against his doctor without a second thought. So why are victims of legal malpractice hesitant to do the same regarding a claim against their attorneys? Many aggrieved clients believe that lawyers are a group of good ol’ boys who will refuse to bring suit against a fellow member of their guild. Although this may still be true of many lawyers, we, at Stanger & Arnold, are dedicated to recovering damages for our clients no matter who is the adversary. If you’ve been injured by negligent or fraudulent legal representation, call Stanger & Arnold today. We’ll stand with you and help you recover your due compensation. Times have Changed. We are here to help.