Florida Legal Malpractice Law Blog

Conflicts of interest in sports and entertainment law

In Florida, it is common for athletes and entertainers to seek help from attorneys and agents to represent their interests. While most attorneys place their clients' interests first, some lawyers fail to do so and engage in malpractice. If you have been the victim of legal malpractice by a sports and entertainment attorney, you may have legal rights to recover compensation through a professional malpractice lawsuit.

Attorneys may not engage in conduct that would amount to a conflict of interest. For example, when a lawyer represents multiple athletes on the same team, the interests of one athlete might conflict with those of another. This issue might arise when an attorney negotiates a high salary for one client that results in another client suffering a salary reduction or being forced to leave.

Conflict issues are the cause of most legal malpractice lawsuits

Legal malpractice lawsuits in Florida and around the country are most commonly filed because of conflict of interest issues, according to a 2018 survey of the nation's leading insurers. Seven of the nine insurance companies polled reported that conflict of interest was either the first or second cause of action in most legal malpractice claims. The insurers surveyed provide coverage to 80% of America's most prominent law firms.

The results of the insurance company survey suggest that law firms could reduce the likelihood of legal malpractice lawsuits significantly by screening job applicants more thoroughly for potential conflict issues. About half of the insurers cited conflict of interest claims involving attorneys who had switched firms or been taken on during a merger or acquisition. The survey reveals that the practice areas with the highest number of legal malpractice claims are corporate transactions, securities, estate planning and real estate.

Mistakes during discovery could be legal malpractice

Before civil cases go to trial in Florida, the parties involved go through what is known as the discovery process. During discovery, attorneys seek to gather evidence that could help them to negotiate a favorable settlement or prevail in court. This is done by requesting documents and asking relevant questions during depositions. If your attorney fails to gather enough evidence to support his or her arguments, you are likely to face an uphill battle as your case progresses.

Errors made during discovery can cast a long shadow. Important facts or relevant documents that remain hidden can severely undermine even a strong case, and failing to ask pertinent questions during depositions can be just as damaging. A divorcing spouse could find it easier to conceal assets during property division negotiations when a family law attorney does not to obtain their financial records or fails to ask probing questions about their income and living expenses, and a car accident victim could be at a disadvantage if their lawyer does not discover that the negligent driver responsible had been prescribed powerful narcotic medications.

Lawyer accused of conflict in fraud case

A former investment company owner convicted of fraud is accusing his lawyer of providing ineffective representation leading to his conviction and imprisonment. The man was convicted of defrauding investors in Florida and across the country of over $200 million. At the time, he headed a firm called Fair Finance, which prosecutors allege he converted into a form of Ponzi scheme, with new money going to pay existing investors and fund the man's lifestyle. In 2012, he was convicted of 12 counts of wire fraud related to his company.

The man is saying that the $1 million he paid his lawyer to represent him in defending the wire fraud charges would have been better spent paying witnesses. He accuses the lawyer of taking the fee despite knowing that witnesses could have been paid with the funds, creating a conflict of interest. He accuses both his trial lawyer and his appellate lawyer of providing him with inadequate assistance of counsel.Some of his complaints have been rejected by a judge, including claims that the lawyers failed to interview some experts and should have done more to suppress search warrants and wiretap evidence.

Television producer alleges legal malpractice in lawsuit

Attorneys in Florida and around the country have fiduciary relationships with their clients. This means that they are ethically bound to act in their best interests at all times. When lawyers breach this duty, they can face professional censure and legal malpractice lawsuits. This is the position an attorney in California found herself in on Oct. 18 when one of her longtime clients filed just such a lawsuit.

The client who filed the lawsuit is a Hollywood producer who spent 20 years working on the "Oprah Winfrey Show". She claims that her attorney violated a rule of The State Bar of California by taking on a production company as a client and then representing her in negotiations with the production company. When the producer told her attorney about this conflict of interest, she was dropped as a client according to the litigation. She also alleges that the production company violated California state law by not putting her negotiated fee agreement in writing.

How clerical errors can lead to legal malpractice

Practicing law is difficult work. The stakes are often high for your clients and you do everything you can to do right by them. After all, they place their trust, belief and even invest financially in your legal expertise to lead them to a better outcome.

The easiest way to potentially harm your client’s case is the presence of administrative or clerical errors. Aside from attorneys improperly applying or misunderstanding the law, administrative errors are the biggest source of legal malpractice.

Lenny Dykstra involved in malpractice case

Florida residents may know Lenny Dykstra from his days playing baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies. However, he has recently pursued legal action against lawyers who represented him in a case stemming from an incident in 2012. The legal malpractice suit against Boucher LLP was filed in February 2017, and it claims that his attorneys failed to do anything meaningful during a discovery period. According to the complaint, the firm was retained by Dykstra in September 2015.

The malpractice suit claims that he would have received a better outcome in a lawsuit against deputies who Dykstra says assaulted him while in their custody. According to representatives from Boucher, Dykstra repeatedly lied to them and had little chance of winning his case. In September 2016, the firm had a meeting with him to announce its intention of withdrawing from the case. However, he decided to terminate his legal counsel during the meeting.

Settlement options are always the client's call

When clients hire lawyers in Florida and across the country, they expect that their cases will be handled professionally, properly, and with their best interests in mind. However, sometimes a lawyer will drop the ball on your case, resulting in legal malpractice. One example of this is an improper settlement.

There are a few ways that a lawyer's malpractice can result in an improper settlement. They may, for example, withhold settlement opportunities from you if a settlement wouldn't benefit the firm or would result in lower pay for the lawyer. They may also encourage you to accept a settlement for the wrong reasons, such as wanting a quick resolution to the case or to cover up a mistake that they've already made.

Defense lawyer accused of conflict in sexual abuse case

A Florida attorney is being accused of a conflict of interest in a case where a pastor is facing criminal charges of child sexual abuse. The pastor allegedly hired a defense attorney who had previously engaged in a romantic relationship with the pastor's accuser in 2012, after she became an adult. According to the plaintiff's lawyer, both the pastor and the lawyer were fully aware of the nature of the relationship. The plaintiff's lawyer argued that the defense lawyer should be disqualified as he could be called as a potential witness by either party in the case.

The pastor was arrested after the complainant said that he had subjected her to sexual abuse and battery between 2005 and 2010 when she was a minor. He is charged with assaulting her at the church where he served as a pastor between 1999 and 2012. Police say that the pastor admitted to the sexual abuse during a recorded phone conversation and encouraged his accuser to deny that the allegations were true. The victim's attorney said that the lawyer's involvement in the case breached his duties of professional responsibility as a Florida attorney as well as the Florida Crime Victims' Bill of Rights.

Statutes of limitation and legal malpractice

Lawsuits that are filed in the state of Florida may be subject to statutes of limitation. A statute of limitation is the deadline by which an individual must file a lawsuit or potentially lose the right to do so forever. For instance, the statute of limitations in a personal injury case is generally two years from the date an injury occurred. Alternatively, it could be two years from the time a person first believed that he or she was hurt because of someone else's negligence.

It is estimated that 13% of legal malpractice claims involve attorneys who failed to preserve a person's ability to file a lawsuit. It is important that an injured victim keeps a statute of limitation in mind when determining whether to settle a case or file a lawsuit. In many cases, this can be done by marking the date on a calendar or by setting an alert on a mobile device.

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