Sunday, August 19, 2007
Malpractice lawyers will sue other lawyers for settling cases and also for taking cases to court. Nebraska Supreme Court (J. Wright) reinstates $1.6 million malpractice verdict against Omaha's McGrath North law firm in favor of former client LaVista Keno operator Richard Bellino and his trial attorney David Domina. Bellino v. McGrath North, S-06-130, 274 Neb. 130. Lawyers beware of advising clients to accept settlements that another lawyer will say were too low, conversely don't advise a client to beat a settlement offer at trial. The Douglas County jury ruled that McGrath North's client received bad legal advice on how to dump his business partner in their Keno business and then that he would win in court. Although the district court agreed that the defendants' continuous representation through the clients unsuccessful appeal against the former partner's business opportunity lawsuit was timely and that the defendants were negligent , the district judge reduced the jury's $1.6 million to $224K. The district judge reasoned that since the client would owe his partner something eventually, no damage resulted from the attorney's conduct. Supreme Court disagrees. "After (plaintiff) did not accept (former partner's) offer, (Plaintiff's) appeal continued until this court affirmed the judgment in favor of (former partner). The jury could reasonably have concluded that but for the negligence of McGrath North, Plaintiff would have paid substantially less than $3.1 million to attain his stated goals."