This case illustrates two things: real estate leases in commercial transactions can have great consequences, and, a contract cause of action for legal malpractice can succeed hugely.
"A lawyer who is now with Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads was hit with a legal malpractice verdict of more than $6.6 million in a suit brought against her and her former firm by a corporate real estate client that said her poor drafting of a lease agreement sparked a lawsuit in California that cost $4 million to settle.
In his verdict from a nonjury trial, Judge Mark I. Bernstein of Philadelphia’s Commerce Court ruled that attorney Karen Senser and Segre & Senser must reimburse Crown Cork & Seal the $4 million it paid to settle the California suit, as well as more than $972,000 in attorney fees and $1.6 million in interest.
Bernstein’s one-page ruling included no discussion of the case, but simply announced his verdict and damages awards totaling $6,643,054.
Crown had initially filed suit against both Senser and her partner, Nina Segre, as well as Montgomery McCracken. But in pretrial rulings, 1st Judicial District President Judge C. Darnell Jones II dismissed Segre from the suit and ruled that all claims against Montgomery McCracken were barred on statute of limitations grounds. Jones also dismissed all claims of breach of fiduciary duty and negligence-based malpractice claims.
As a result, the case went to trial only on a contract-based malpractice claim against Senser and her former firm.