Legal Malpractice Triple Damages
Legal Malpractice Yields Rare Triple Damages, 93A and Attorney Fees Award in Boston
After trial on a legal malpractice case, we successfully secured treble (triple) damages and attorney fees. This is not common, but, under the circumstances in this case, it was warranted.
In this case our client injured his front tooth while eating at a Boston restaurant. The injury was as a result of biting on a rock in his taco salad. Our client, a 747 captain staying at a Boston hotel, was diagnosed with an “angular crack in his lower front tooth number 24.”
On advice of a friend, Mr. C retained a Boston injury attorney with an excellent reputation. Unfortunately, the trial attorney was having personal troubles. He misled Mr. C about the claim. He filed suit but neglected to “serve” the lawsuit papers and summons on the defendant restaurant. The case was dismissed by the Court Clerk. The attorney neglected to resurrect the case, or to inform the client of the problem. In fact, for six (6) years, while Mr. C was writing, calling and email his attorney, he got false and misleading responses such as: “Your case is simply waiting for a trial date to be assigned,” or the sarcastic “Next time, contrive to be injured in a state where cases get to trial sometime in the lifetime of the parties.”
At one point, Mr. C investigated his case on his own and learned that his lawsuit had been dismissed. He retained our office. We immediately sent Mr. C’s former attorney a 93A demand letter. Unfortunately, Mr. C’s former attorney’s malpractice insurance company retained counsel who was even more sarcastic: his response to our 93A demand letter stated: “Your demand for relief is a classic case of overreaching that clients often engage in when they make a claim against a former attorney. Negligence by an attorney is not a license to seek the sun, moon, stars and everything beyond.”
Wherefore, we filed suit, undertook aggressive discovery, and went to trial. According to the findings by the Court, the Chief Judge of the Boston Municipal Court, sitting as a Superior Court Judge, counsel undertook a “long-practiced deception that C’s case was still pending… [which] actively misled C to believe that not only would trial be forthcoming but also that settlement was still possible.”
After testimony by a dental expert and a legal expert, the Court found for Mr. C. and awarded treble damages pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 93A. Upon the filing of a motion for attorney fees, the defendant paid the full damages, interest, costs and attorney fees.
See Suffolk Superior Court Civil Action Number 02-04485.