Attorney attendence at trials and conferences is a big source of legal malpractice troubles. Here is a case from Brooklyn:
Diamond v. Diamante, 27030/03
Decided: March 22, 2007
Justice Diana A. Johnson
"On the trial adjourn date of November 15, 2006, plaintiff Claudia Diamond and her attorney James D. Reddy failed to appear. Plaintiff Sheldon Diamond, the husband of Claudia Diamond, appeared and related that Mr. Reddy had told him the day before that he would be unable to be in court, that he had two other cases on Long Island, and to ask for an adjournment. Mr. Diamond was not given an affirmation of engagement to present to the Court by Mr. Reddy.
Mr. Grossman moved to dismiss the action with prejudice. In response Mr. Diamond stated that his wife should not be punished for Mr. Reddy’s actions, that hiring him had been a terrible mistake, and that his wife was sick and she should have an opportunity to have justice served. The court clerk indicated that Mr. Reddy had called the day before seeking an adjournment claiming his client Claudia Diamond was sick.
On consideration of the attendant circumstances the Court finds Mr. Reddy failure to appear on November 15, 2006 was without good cause. The Court is cognizant of the fact that Mr. Reddy is a solo practitioner and is loath to impose sanctions. In consequence the Court sought to avoid having the hearing and encouraged Mr. Reddy to settle the costs matter with Mr. Grossman and Ms. Punzone. The Court indicated if a settlement was made, the Court would consider the matter closed regarding his nonappearance on November 15, 2006 and not proceed with the sanctions hearing. However, Mr. Reddy insisted in the correctness of his actions and that he had been entitled to an adjournment under Part 125. Mr. Reddy has totally misconstrued the function of Part 125 which is to delineate and provide the criteria upon which an attorney may obtain an adjournment based on being otherwise engaged. This is in recognition of the fact that at times the responsibilities of competing cases may cause an attorney through no fault of his/her own to have conflicting engagements. Its purpose is to set up priorities when such conflicts arise, not to create a way for an attorney to extricate himself from a scheduled trial date he is aware of, by setting up a conflict and then using the conflicting engagement as the excuse for not appearing when the other side will not consent to an adjournment. No less than his own affirmation of engagement establishes that his failure to appear was self-created and avoidable. As stated at paragraph 13, "[b]ased on the reported illness of the plaintiff Claudia Diamond by her husband and the inability to continue her testimony on November 15, 2006, I seized the opportunity to seek a temporary restraining order . . . ." (emphasis added). Mr. Reddy’s explanation for not appearing is without merit and is inexcusable. Accordingly the Court finds based on the testimony elicited at the hearing that the reasonable amount of costs incurred by Ms. Punzone due to her appearance on November 15, 2006 to be $129.00; and the reasonable amount of costs incurred by Mr. Grossman to be $500.00. The Court further imposes upon Mr. Reddy sanctions pursuant to Subpart 130-2 in the sum of one thousand dollars ( $1000.00) to be deposited with the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection. Judgment is granted against Mr. Reddy accordingly.