by Steven Markowitz
Iowa Joins Majority of Jurisdictions Prohibiting Fee Set-Off for Successful Plaintiffs in Legal Malpractice Actions
Recently the Iowa Supreme Court in Hook v. Trevino (2013) 839 N.W.2d 434 (“Hook”) held that a defendant attorney in a legal malpractice action cannot reduce the award to a successful plaintiff by the contingent fee the defendant would have been paid if the underlying action had been successful. The defendant in Hook argued that in the event he had been successful in the underlying matter, the plaintiff would have been contractually obligated to pay 40% of the award to him as part of a contingency fee and any award given to the plaintiff should be reduced by that amount. Continue reading
With the 2007 financial crisis and bursting of the housing bubble came increased scrutiny of lender practices. Third parties to real estate loans, such as brokers, packagers, resellers, and servicing contractors, also have found themselves under increased watch. With lending institutions finding themselves in hot water due to their lax lending practices and seeking to shift the blame to others, coverage offered by fidelity bonds for losses caused by third parties has become an increasingly important subject for fidelity bond insurers.
Employers frequently include in their employment agreements an arbitration clause, hoping that in the event an employee ever sues them, they can avoid lengthy and costly litigation in favor of stream-lined arbitration. Arbitration can offer numerous benefits to an employer, such as reduced publicity and less exposure to punitive damages and runaway verdicts. However, more than one employer has found out the hard way when an employee claims it didn’t know what it signed that such agreements aren’t always enforceable. Continue reading
The California Court of Appeals recently reaffirmed the rules regarding the statute of limitations in cases involving attorney malpractice. In Stueve Bros. Farms, LLC v. Berger Khan (2013) – Cal.App.4th –, the plaintiff, heirs to the Alta Dena Dairy fortune built by the Stueve family, claimed fraud, conspiracy, and professional negligence by the dairy’s attorneys, who it was alleged devised a scheme to drain off $25 million of the family assets. Despite the 331 page complaint detailing numerous instances of fraudulent conduct, the trial court sustained the defendant law firm’s demurrer without leave to amend, holding the statute of limitations barred all actions. Continue reading
Changes to health insurance laws have been at the forefront of national news for some time. This year, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the insurance industry has seen some drastic changes. But the ACA isn’t the only change to insurance laws. Below are some of the changes insurers and insureds can expect to see in the new year. Continue reading
The new year will bring with it some important changes for employers, as Governor Brown signed into effect multiple bills affecting employment laws. Employers should be sure to stay abreast of these changes to ensure compliance with the new laws and avoid any liability.
California Appellate Court Finds Unique Exception to Prohibition on Assignment of Legal Malpractice Claims
Written by Steven Markowitz
California prohibits the assignment of legal malpractice claims to third parties. See, Goodley v. Wank & Wank (1976) 62 Cal.App.3d 389 (“Goodley”). This prohibition is based upon public policy arising out of the uniquely personal nature of legal services and the highly personal and confidential attorney-client relationship. Additionally, if such claims were assignable, it could turn legal malpractice claims into a marketable commodity to be exploited by attorneys and third parties unrelated to the case. This rule has been applied broadly, so that claims against attorneys that derive from the performance of legal services, such as fraud or breach of contract, come within the prohibition on assignment. See, Jackson v. Rogers & Wells (1989) 210 Cal.App.3d 336 Continue reading