In the underlying case, the legal malpractice plaintiffs were sued by neighbors alleging ejectment and trespass. The plaintiffs counterclaimed arguing the neighbor sprayed 2,4-D near their garden and as a result the wife developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The law firm representing the counterclaimants (now plaintiffs) decided to withdraw from the case after the court dismissed all of the counterclaims. A jury in this underlying case found in favor of the neighbors on all remaining counts. The plaintiffs then filed a breach of contract and legal malpractice case against their attorneys.
The plaintiffs claimed the law firm failed to fully investigate the facts of the case, failed to timely respond to the neighbors’ motion for summary judgment, failed to keep them informed of the status of the case or the strengths and weaknesses of the case and withdrew without good cause or giving them an opportunity to be heard.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- Did the defendant law firm violate professional standards in withdrawing from the case?
Expert Witness Response
Likewise, failure to seek dismissal without prejudice before the summary judgment motion was argued did not fall below accepted standards. The attorney agreed to represent the plaintiffs on an hourly basis to assist them as they performed all of the leg work in providing witnesses and obtaining medical evidence to support their claims. The plaintiffs failed to provide the professional witnesses and, thus, the attorney was not able to advise the court that a qualified expert had been retained. The attorney’s relationship with the plaintiffs had deteriorated to the point that he could not adequately communicate, advise, or direct them in any way. The attorney had an obligation to withdraw to allow the clients to hire an attorney they can communicate with and trust.
The expert has been an attorney for more than 40 years and focuses on personal injury and professional negligence.