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.
The producer is suing for breach of fiduciary duty, unfair or deceptive business practices and legal malpractice. She wants the court to declare her financial arrangement with her attorney null and void and is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages. She also wants the court to order her attorney to refund the legal fees she has already paid. The production company is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Lawsuits based on violations of legal malpractice laws are sometimes complex and difficult to litigate. That is why it may be prudent for people who believe that their attorney failed to live up to his or her fiduciary duty to contact a lawyer with experience in this area. Experienced malpractice attorneys will likely be familiar with the remedies available to those who are harmed when professional ethics rules are violated.