Imagine how it would change the practice of litigation if lawyers could be held answerable for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on opponents, witnesses or third parties. Of course that’s not going to happen, since our legal profession is quite good at immunizing itself from exposure to liability for the same sorts of injuries that it sues over when inflicted by others. In this SSRN paper (via Robinette, TortsProf), Alex Long of the University of Tennessee proposes a presumption that lawyers’ behavior is “extreme and outrageous,” a precondition of IIED liability, if they could get disbarred for it.
The Connecticut Supreme Court is being asked to rule that lawyers and conservators appointed by probate judges are immune from being sued by those they represent. The case arose “because of the abuse that Daniel Gross, an elderly New York man, suffered during 2005 and 2006 at the hands of a Waterbury probate court after he became sick while visiting his daughter.” Gross was placed in a nursing home on conservator’s orders, a decision eventually reversed by a court. [Rick Green, Hartford Courant]
Lawyers who practice stress reduction techniques want discounts from their malpractice insurers [ABA Journal]
In case you didn’t know that. [Zach Lowe, AmLaw Daily]
Will it cost its real estate client tens of millions? [NY Times via Above the Law] More: NY Post and Above the Law again.
We covered this legal malpractice claim last year, with particular attention to the defendant law firm’s argument that it didn’t matter whether the case was handled flawlessly since it was obviously low on merit in the first place. Now a New York appellate court has reversed the trial court and dismissed the action on other grounds. (Scott Kreppein, Sept. 17).
In a key victory for plaintiffs and their lawyers, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has for the first time adopted the “loss of a chance” doctrine, which allows plaintiffs to recover money without having to show that it was more likely than not that the charged medical negligence made the difference in their recovery or survival. (Denise Lavoie, “Doctor held liable for a ‘loss of chance’”, AP/Boston Globe, Jul. 24). When Medical Economics surveyed the field two years ago, they found that about half the states had accepted the more liberal doctrine, which runs counter to the Anglo-American “more likely than not” prerequisite for establishing causation. More on the inexact and contradictory standards used in such cases here.
Readers of this site will not be the least surprised to learn that American courts have shown little or no interest in extending the “loss of a chance” doctrine for the benefit of plaintiffs in legal malpractice cases filed against attorneys whose inattention might have (but probably didn’t) deprive their clients of a favorable outcome in court proceedings.