Legal malpractice cases seem to enjoy a higher level of scrutiny in motions to dismiss than do other species of law suit. Perhaps this is just because it is lawyers examining the behavior of other lawyers. Here is a case fron NJ on legal malpractice and a conflict of interest.
"Plaintiff, Frank Devone, appeals from a summary judgment dismissing his legal malpractice claim against defendant, Dominic S. Favieri, Jr., Esquire. The motion judge concluded that the records contained no evidence to establish proximate cause between defendant’s allegedly improper conduct and the loss claimed by plaintiff. We agree with the judge’s analysis and affirm. Defendant has filed a protective cross-appeal from the refusal by the motion judge to further determine that plaintiff’s claim was precluded by principles of collateral estoppel and the entire controversy doctrine. In light of our disposition of the appeal, we will not address the arguments raised by defendant in his cross-appeal.
Material factual premises underlying Dugan’s opinion are not supported by the record. Lack negotiated with the buyer on Marini’s behalf to obtain the consulting agreement for Marini. There is nothing in the record to support the allegation that defendant participated in those negotiations. And, by letter of February 20, 1998, the buyer’s attorney forwarded to Reilly a draft agreement of sale embodying the terms of the consent order in an expanded form. That agreement, although it was never signed, is significant because it contains a disclosure of the consulting agreement between the buyer and Marini. Indeed, that portion of the agreement is marked by a handwritten notation, apparently inserted by Reilly, following Marini’s name, stating "and/or Frank Devone," indicating an effort by Reilly to obtain from the buyer’s attorney a comparable or shared agreement to include his client. Further, Reilly’s billing records and plaintiff’s deposition make clear that Reilly reviewed the draft agreement with plaintiff.
Therefore, plaintiff and his personal attorney were on notice of Marini’s consulting agreement with the buyer before the transaction was consummated. Plaintiff produced no evidence to suggest that the buyer would have had any interest in hiring him as a consultant. He produced no certification from the buyer and did not depose the buyer. Nor did he produce any evidence, or conduct any discovery that might yield such evidence, to suggest that the $150,000 was actually additional purchase money and that Marini did not indeed provide consulting services for the buyer. "