Legal Malpractice Blown Statute, $200,000 Settlement – Lawyer Sanctioned, Twice
Our client, Pat, retained an attorney we will call Jack. Pat had two personal injury cases that were good, solid cases: she was injured and it was clear that it was as a result of the negligence of others. Unfortunately, Jack neglected Pat’s cases and the statute of limitations ran. As a result, Pat lost her legal right to sue and the monies that she would have collected. Jack also neglected his ethical duty to inform his client, Pat, to seek new counsel, knowing that he could not represent her after his negligence. Jack even went further: on June 23, 2008 he drew up a handwritten contract in which with Jack would resolve all outstanding claims for $200,000 and even wrote up a payment schedule.
And to top off Jack’s negligent and unethical behavior, he had no malpractice insurance.
Collection of Monies Against Attorney With No Insurance
Did Attorney Jack pay the $500 a month according his own payment schedule? No. Not one payment. Pat retained Attorney Neil Burns and he immediately evaluated the case and filed suit in the Boston Municipal Court. Attorney Jack entered into an Agreement for Judgment after he was served with a Summons and the Complaint on November 23, 2009
Judgment Against Attorney for Negligence
Did Attorney Jack pay? No. But this time Pat had a Judgment which included an agreement for Attorney Jack to pay Pat’s legal costs and fees. Thus, Attorney Burns filed for Supplementary Process in Brookline District Court. Did Attorney Jack pay? He made a few payments but never stuck to any reasonable payment schedule in the eight (8) years 2009 to 2017. Attorney Burns kept appearing in Court on behalf of Pat. Each time there would be an increase in payment activity to Pat, a Court Order for payment and to produce documents and our client was made whole…one teeny tiny step at a time.
Findings of Contempt of Court Against Attorney – Twice
Attorney Burns secured Court Orders to examine Attorney Jack’s tax returns, client payment schedules, and all of his bank accounts. After thoroughly examining Jack’s financial situation, it was determined that he has a few good cases (yes he was still practicing law!) and Attorney Burns secured a Court Order of December 19, 2013 stating that Attorney Jack share of any proceeds of specific contingent fee settlements, that they were “attached by the plaintiff.” However, Attorney Jack informed on June 16, 2015 that he had violated the Court Order “approximately one year ago” and that he failed to forward the $7,333 in proceeds from a settlement to Attorney Burns. The Brookline District Court found Attorney Jack in Contempt of a Court Order. A settlement of $15,000 was made for this finding of Contempt.
Attorney Jack began making regular payments, however, he neglected the second half of the Court’s Order – revealing his finances on a regular basis. Again, Attorney Jack was found in Contempt.
Tenaciousness of Attorney Burns Results in Monthly Legal Malpractice Payments
Pat passed away in November 2016. Her estate was set up and Attorney Burns continues to represent the family in attempting to resolve her claims against Jack. Pat’s family now has a small but steady stream of income from this case – which is all that Pat left.
Significantly, note that Attorney Burns did not give up just because there was no legal malpractice insurance. He did not give up just because there was a default in the lawsuit. He did not give up even after there was a Court Order for payment in the Supplementary Process lawsuit and no payment was made. He fought for his client, and his client’s heirs, and will continue to fight for his clients.