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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Appellants’ complaint alleging that the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) negligently failed to enforce Nebraska statutes and regulations against Pierce Grain Elevator, Inc. (PEI). The complaint was filed under Nebraska’s State Tort Claims Act (STCA). In dismissing the complaint, the district court concluded that Appellants’ suit was barred by the STCA’s discretionary function exception provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,219(1). The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s determination that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case, holding that Appellants’ claims were grounded in a state agency’s alleged failure to suspend or revoke a license and that the Legislature has preserved sovereign immunity for such conduct. View "Amend v. Nebraska Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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From 2008-2015, Mason was a judge on the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas. In 2014, Mason assaulted his estranged wife in a moving car, with their children (ages four and six) in the backseat, then drove off, leaving her on the ground. His wife sustained severe harm to her head, face, and neck, including an orbital blowout fracture under her eye, and required surgery. Mason pled guilty to attempted felonious assault, a third-degree felony, and domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor. Mason was removed as a judge, was incarcerated, and settled his wife's civil suit for $150,000. The Board of Professional Conduct found that Mason violated Jud.Cond.R. 1.2 (a judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety); Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(a) (a lawyer shall not violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct), 8.4(b) (a lawyer shall not commit an illegal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty or trustworthiness), and 8.4(h) (a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law). After weighing aggravating and mitigating factors, the Board recommended disbarment. The Supreme Court of Ohio agreed that Mason committed the violations but imposed an indefinite suspension with added conditions for reinstatement., noting noted that the attack was not premeditated or part of a pattern of behavior. View "Ohio State Bar Association v. Mason" on Justia Law

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In March 2016, Eric Clark and Clark and Associates, PLLC (collectively, Clark) sued the law firm of Jones Gledhill Fuhrman Gourley, P.A., and two individuals associated with that firm, William Fuhrman and Christopher Graham (collectively, Jones Gledhill). The genesis of this appeal started with Forbush v. Sagecrest Multi Family Property Owners’ Association, Inc., 396 P.3d 1199 (2017), a tort case in which a water heater emitted hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, killing one and seriously injuring another. In "Forbush," Clark initially represented the plaintiffs (Forbush), and Jones Gledhill represented two of the defendants, Anfinson Plumbing and Daniel Bakken. As his co-counsel, Clark enlisted the Spence Law Firm (Spence), but after approximately three years, irreconcilable differences plagued Clark and Spence’s relationship, and Clark withdrew. After withdrawing, in September 2015, Clark sent a letter to Jones Gledhill, which stated that he was “asserting an attorney lien according to I.C. 3-205, which attaches to any settlement or verdict. Please include [Clark’s] name on any settlement checks payable to the [Forbush] plaintiffs or any other payments related to a verdict or judgment.” A settlement between the Forbush defendants and plaintiffs was reached in January 2016, at which time the Forbush defendants wrote a settlement check to the Forbush plaintiffs. Without informing Clark of the settlement, Jones Gledhill forwarded the settlement check to Spence. When Clark learned of the settlement and contacted Jones Gledhill, the enforceability of Clark’s claimed lien became disputed. Clark alleged that Jones Gledhill was liable for failing to protect his attorney lien. Jones Gledhill moved to dismiss Clark’s amended complaint under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and the district court granted the motion. In addition to dismissing Clark’s complaint, the district court sealed several documents containing correspondence with and information about Clark’s former clients, denied Clark’s motion to amend, and awarded attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-121 to Jones Gledhill. Clark appealed. But finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Clark v. Jones Gledhill Fuhrman Gourley" on Justia Law

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Maine attorneys must obtain a client’s informed consent regarding the scope and effect of any contractual provision that prospectively requires the client to submit malpractice claims against those attorneys to arbitration. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A.’s (Bernstein) motion to compel arbitration in a legal malpractice claim filed against it. The superior court concluded that Bernstein failed to obtain informed consent from Susan Snow, its client, to submit malpractice claims to arbitration and that federal law does not preempt a rule requiring attorneys to obtain such informed consent from their clients. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not err in concluding that (1) Bernstein’s failure to obtain informed consent from Snow regarding an arbitration provision rendered that provision unenforceable as contrary to public policy; and (2) the Federal Arbitration Act does not preempt a requirement that attorneys obtain informed consent from their clients before contracting to submit disputes to arbitration. View "Snow v. Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A." on Justia Law

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Ariz. R. Evid. 408 precludes use of a consent judgment to prove substantive facts to establish liability for a subsequent claim. Likewise, a consent judgment cannot be used for impeachment purposes under Ariz. R. Evid. 613. Before disciplinary proceedings were initiated against attorney Brent Phillips, the Arizona Attorney General sued Phillips for violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). To resolve the CFA action, Phillips agreed to a consent judgment. During attorney disciplinary proceedings, Phillips’ counsel moved in limine to preclude the State Bar from introducing the consent judgment into evidence for any purpose. The State Bar opposed the motion, arguing that it should be allowed to use the consent judgment to impeach Phillips’ testimony if it differed from the facts contained in the consent judgment. The presiding disciplinary judge (PDJ) concluded that Rule 408 did not render the stipulated facts inadmissible. The Supreme Court vacated the PDJ's order denying Phillips’ motion in limine, holding (1) none of the exceptions to Rule 408 allowed the State Bar to admit the consent judgment or its contents into evidence during the disciplinary proceedings; and (2) Rule 408 did not permit the use of the consent judgment to impeach Phillips. View "Phillips v. Honorable William O’Neil" on Justia Law

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Appellant SCF Consulting, LLC lodged a civil complaint against Appellee, the law firm of Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, in the common pleas court. Appellant averred that it had maintained a longstanding oral consulting agreement with the law firm, which the firm purportedly breached in 2014. According to Appellant, the arrangement was for the solicitation of institutional investors to participate in securities class actions, and remuneration was to be in the form of a two-and-one-half to five-percent share of the firm’s annual profits on matters “originated” by Appellant’s principal or on which he provided substantial work. Appellant claimed the consulting agreement qualified as an express exception to the anti-fee-splitting rule for an employee “compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement.” Alternatively, Appellant argued Appellee’s attempt to invoke public policy as a shield was an “audacious defense” which, if credited, would perversely reward the law firm by allowing it to profit from its own unethical conduct. The county court agreed with Appellee’s position concerning both the nonapplicability of the exception to Rule 5.4(a)’s prohibition and the unenforceability of the alleged agreement. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded the ultimate outcome of this case might turn on factual findings concerning Appellant’s culpability, or the degree thereof, relative to the alleged ethical violation. The Court held only that the contract cause of action was not per se barred by the purported infraction on Appellee’s part and, accordingly, the county court’s bright-line approach to the unenforceability of the alleged consulting agreement should not have been sustained. View "SCF Consulting, LLC. v. Barrack Rodos & Bacine" on Justia Law

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The statute of limitations for a cause of action permitting parents to recover the extraordinary expenses incurred to care for a disabled infant who, but for a physician’s negligent failure to detect or advise on the risks of impairment, would not have been born runs from the date of birth rather than the date of the alleged negligence. Plaintiffs in both cases gave birth to children through in vitro fertilization treatment using an egg donor. Two of the three children born to the two couples had the Fragile X mutation, a chromosomal abnormality. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants failed timely to screen the egg donor for the Fragile X mutation and that these negligent acts or omissions resulted in the parents incurring extraordinary expenses to care for and treat a child with a disability. Defendants moved to dismiss both complaints, arguing that the extraordinary expenses claims were time-barred because the limitations period runs from the date of the alleged malpractice, which they identified as the date the embryos were implanted in the mothers. Supreme Court denied the motion to dismiss, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because Plaintiffs’ causes of action for extraordinary expenses accrued upon the birth of their children, the claims were timely. View "B.F. v Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court in this action arising from a construction dispute. Two subcontractors - the steel fabricator and the steel erector and installer - on a condominium project brought suit against the project owner, developer, and general contractor after the subcontractors proceeded with extra work outside the scope of the original bid documents but were never paid for either that work or the retainage amount owed under the steel fabricator’s contract with the general contractor. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff for the cost of the extra work and unpaid retainage. The general contractor prevailed on its indemnification cross-claim against the other two defendants and on the negligence cross-claim asserted against it by the other two defendants. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals (1) erred by reversing the trial court’s judgment against the owner for unjust enrichment; (2) properly reversed the trial court’s judgment against the general contractor for breach of contract; and (3) properly found that the trial court should have instructed the jury on the owner and developer’s breach of contract claim but erred in finding the negligence instruction deficient. View "Superior Steel, Inc. v. Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Chois consulted in 2003 with defendants, who advised the Chois that an IRC 412(i) Plan retirement account would provide tax advantages, asset protection, and steady income. It required several steps including the purchase of “whole life” insurance for eventual exchange for American General Universal Life “Platinum” policies. The initial purchase was $1,275,000; a second purchase cost $439,000. The policies comprised 70-75 percent of the Plan portfolio. The IRS audited the Chois in 2006. Defendants changed their advice. Plaintiffs sued, alleging cash losses attributable to loss in value and that they were required to pay $440,000 in back taxes and interest, plus $60,000 in penalties, and faced future payments to the Franchise Tax Board of California and anticipated IRS penalties of $600,000. Defendants cross-complained for indemnity and comparative fault against American General. The trial court found the claims time-barred. The court of appeal affirmed, upholding a determination that the limitations period began to run in September 2007, when plaintiffs were “on notice” that the IRS would impose penalties, not in 2010 when penalties were assessed; the court declining to consider any tolling effect created by the ongoing fiduciary relationship; and application of the 2007 “notice” date as a bar to all claims. View "Choi v. Sagemark Consulting" on Justia Law

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This legal malpractice action was not barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Defendant attorneys represented Plaintiffs in a lender liability lawsuit. Plaintiffs later filed this lawsuit alleging legal malpractice. The trial court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims as barred by the statute of limitations. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court held (1) Carvell v. Bottoms, 900 S.W.2d 23 (Tenn. 1995), is the proper analysis for determining when a claim of legal malpractice accrues; (2) the complaint in this case failed to establish an actual injury prior to the date of the trial court’s final judgment in the underlying case, and therefore, the trial court erred in determining that Plaintiffs’ legal malpractice claims were time barred; and (3) the trial court erred in granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. View "Story v. Bunstine" on Justia Law