As reported in Verdict Search here are a list of nationwide “big defense wins” in Legal Malpractice.
Lawyer not liable for failing to discover prior trust
An attorney was not negligent for failing to discover a preexisting trust before preparing a last will and testament, a California jury found. Plaintiffs Guido Scarato, 70, and John Higgins, 82, were the beneficiaries of their friend Bruno Visca’s will. When Visca died, the attorney who had prepared it, Dennis Fox, discovered that there was a preexisting trust that did not leave anything to Scarato or Higgins. They brought an action in probate court, which resulted in their receiving about $460,000 out of the $1.3 million estate. They then sued Fox for legal malpractice. Fox argued that he was entitled to rely upon the testator’s representations that there were no prior wills or trusts.
Scarato v. Fox
Lawyer successfully argued case was a loser even if he had filed on time
A man who sued his attorney for failing to timely file a claim was denied recovery by a Florida jury. When attorney Ronald Guralnick attempted to file an excessive force suit in federal court, he discovered that the four-year statute of limitations had run. His client, Carlos Salomon, sued Guralnick for legal malpractice, claiming that the underlying claim, which alleged that Jacksonville, Fla., officers used excessive force during his arrest, leaving him confined to a wheelchair and blind in one eye, would have been a winner. Guralnick admitted failing to timely file, but argued that the case would not have been successful anyway because the police did not act with excessive force during Salomon’s arrest and the department took measures to ensure that police brutality would not occur.
Salomon v. Guralnick
Wrongly convicted man blamed public defender’s strategy
A man who served four years in prison for a crime he did not commit was denied recovery by an Illinois jury on his legal malpractice suit against the assistant public defender who handled his case and Cook County, Ill. Richard Johnson was charged with raping and robbing a college student. At his trial, APD Michael Halloran decided to move to exclude serology evidence and focus the defense on the weakness of the victim’s identification. Johnson was convicted and went to prison. DNA testing later demonstrated that he did not commit the crime. He was released from prison and pardoned. Halloran and Cook County argued that the serology evidence at trial did not exclude Johnson as the perpetrator.
Johnson v. Halloran
Jury sided with attorney who refused to rescind settlement
The attorney for a former undercover drug agent did not mishandle her wrongful termination suits, a Texas jury found. After agreeing to settle her wrongful termination cases against Chambers County, Texas, in 1999 for $8,000, Barbara Markham claimed that the county had intimidated her at mediation by threatening to arrest her. She claimed that she asked her attorney, Blair Brininger, to rescind the settlements and reinstate the cases. Brininger refused and Markham brought the instant action against him for attorney malpractice. Brininger denied that the county had threatened Markham and argued that Markham even told the judge that the settlement was voluntary. He claimed that if she didn’t like the result it was her fault for constantly changing her mind about the cases.
Markham v. Brininger