Lawyer conceals client’s death from opponent

by Walter Olson on April 26, 2010

Only after the settlement was in hand did a Minnesota lawyer let slip the rather material fact that his client had some time back departed this earthly frame. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune "The Whistleblower" via ABA Journal] Ironically, the lawyer was suing over a credit report that had mistakenly reported his client as dead (back when he was alive). The lawyer, who had been disciplined seven other times, has now been barred from working for a year.

More: Discussion in comments at Legal Ethics Forum, including Prof. Monroe Freedman: “I disagree with [this kind of] result.”

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PointOfLaw Forum
04.28.10 at 10:49 am

{ 9 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 04.26.10 at 6:31 am

When the credit report company says you are dead, they mean it!

2 Bob Lipton 04.26.10 at 6:55 am

Perhaps he can go into partnership with a dead lawyer for that year.

Bob

3 Matt 04.26.10 at 9:37 am

You laugh, Bob, but after perusing this site’s archives I wouldn’t bet against it.

4 wfjag 04.26.10 at 11:16 am

Who signed the release and endorsed the settlement check?

5 David Knights 04.26.10 at 3:44 pm

Actually, Kentucky has had this issue come up several times. A number of years ago our courts made it manditory for counsel to inform the opposing party immediately if he learns of his client’s death.

6 Jay Markowitz 04.26.10 at 5:40 pm

My client is not deceased. He is taking some time off from life for tax purposes.

7 SmartGuy 04.26.10 at 11:17 pm

(With apologies to Monty Python)

“Your client is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late client! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed him to the perch he would be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! It’s hopped the twig! It’s shuffled off this mortal coil! It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This…. is an EX-CLIENT!

8 Roy in Nipomo 04.27.10 at 8:36 am

Richard – a few years ago I came back as “deceased” during a credit check for a re-fi on the house (data entry error). My wife and kids (not adopted) were shocked to find out that she was “male” (but did have good credit).

Surprisingly, since I was a gov’t worker, I couldn’t get bereavement leave over my demise. Since the error was on the part of the inquirer and not the credit co, it was easily rectified.

9 Richard Nieporent 04.27.10 at 11:47 am

Richard – a few years ago I came back as “deceased” during a credit check for a re-fi on the house (data entry error). My wife and kids (not adopted) were shocked to find out that she was “male” (but did have good credit).

That’s funny, the exact same thing happened to me! When I was refinancing my home mortgage, the finance company told me that my financial reports were excellent. However there was a small problem. When I inquired what it was, they told me that one of the credit bureaus had reported me as deceased. When I called the credit bureau to have them fix their records I used the old Mark Twain line “The report of my death has been greatly exaggerated”.

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