Legal malpractice claim over lawyers who changed sides

Business owners in Florida may rely on their attorneys to provide reliable advice and representation, but they may face serious problems if their lawyers have a conflict of interest or engage in other questionable behavior. One company has been pursuing a legal malpractice claim against two of its former lawyers for four years, accusing them of breaching their fiduciary duty to the firm. The case has proceeded slowly, especially as the lawyers being sued in the case have refused to release certain emails and texts, saying they are covered by attorney-client privilege.

Specifically, one company, Pinnacle Surety, accuses their attorneys of working on behalf of two former employees of the firm while still owing a legal duty to the company. The firm says that the lawyers sent a demand letter to the company from two employees, sued the company, encouraged the employees to leave their employment relationship and supported them in founding a competitor firm, L.A. Surety. The lawsuit alleges that the lawyers still owed Pinnacle a fiduciary duty at the time that they started representing the company's former employees. One of the lawyers is the registered agent for the competitor company launched by the former Pinnacle staff.

Pinnacle filed an expert report to support its claim that the emails and texts should be disclosed. It says that many of the email conversations involved actually took place on its corporate servers. It also claims that the actions revealed by the emails constitute a breach of fiduciary duty, crime or fraud, making them exempt from attorney-client privilege.

When business owners find out that their legal counsel may also represent the other side in a dispute, they may face a serious disadvantage that leads to thousands of dollars in losses. A legal malpractice attorney might help clients to hold lawyers accountable for breaching their responsibilities.

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