Archive for August, 2012

A blow to pretreatment ADR agreements signed by parents

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Allan Tereshko has rejected a hospital’s argument that a plaintiff gave up her right to a jury trial due to an ADR agreement signed by the plaintiff’s mother.  The court noted that the mother did not have power of attorney to make the decision to give up the right to a jury trial.  In his opinion, the judge also noted that the mother testified that she does not remember signing the document, and does not recall anyone explaining the document to her.  The article in the Intelligencer does not state whether the daughter was a minor at the time of treatment.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire

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Likely Disbarment for Cuban Cigar Smuggling

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The headline is (as is often the case) more sensational than the actual story.  Illinois attorney, Richard Stevens Connors, was convicted in 2002 of violating the “Trading With the Enemy Act.”  Mr. Connors now faces the possibility of disbarment.  Mr. Connors was stopped on the Canadian border with 46 boxes of Cuban cigars.  As a result, Mr. Connors was sentenced to 37 months in prison and fined $60,000.  The report and recommendation of the hearing board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission found that Mr. Connors’ crime involved moral turpitude and recommended disbarment.  The board also considered the aggravating factor that Mr. Connors had previously converted client funds in 2006, and had been suspended for one year at that time.  Mr. Connors had been ordered to pay restitution, but as of the date of hearing had not paid any restitution.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire (H.T. ABA Journal)

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New Massachusetts Law on Medical Malpractice

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

A new law in Massachusetts, is interesting in having found support from the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.  The law includes a 182-day “cooling off” period, and allows doctors to acknowledge making a mistake without it being used as an admission of liability.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire

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Blawg 100 Amici- ABA Journal

Friday, August 10th, 2012

The ABA Journal is putting together its list of the 100 best Blawgs (legal blogs).  We would love nominations from any of our loyal readers!

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire

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More Social Media for Lawyers Tips

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

We have written before, multiple times, about the use of social media by lawyers.  Here is a nice list of tips for attorney ethical compliance while using social media.  Several of the tips are good malpractice avoidance tips.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire (H.T. B.C.B.- researcher extraordinaire)

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What a Mess!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The Chicago law firm of Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona, is suing their former clients Ken and Wendy Brown for breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and conspiracy (interestingly, the article does not mention wrongful use of civil proceedings- we were unable to find a copy of the actual pleading).  Ken Brown was a popular Boca Raton radio show host, with a show offering investment advice.  Gardiner Koch lawyer, James Koch, defended the Browns in an action brought against them by the SEC.  According to the article in Courthouse News Service: “Koch says, he ‘later learned that Brown had been sanctioned and accused of fraudulent dealings in New York, Florida, and Alabama.’”   In 2007, Brown was ordered by a federal court to pay $9.6 million for violating securities laws.  The Securities and Exchange Commission claimed he was “cherry-picking”: directing the fruits of profitable stock trades to himself or his firm and telling investors their trades had produced a loss.  After the Browns lost the lawsuit brought by the SEC, they sued Gardiner Koch for legal malpractice.  According to the article: “Defendants told Koch that they had filed suit against each and every law firm they had hired to as to shake down insurance companies.”  The present action by Gardiner Koch stems from that legal malpractice action.

The professional liability avoidance takeaway is to vet your clients carefully.  Had Koch done some research, he presumably could have found out that the client had been accused and/or sanctioned for securities violations multiple times before, and had “filed suit against each and every law firm they had hired.”  Legal malpractice avoidance best practices include knowing who your clients are and why they have come to you.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire

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Healthcare Reforms Going Into Effect

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Under the affordable care act, a number of notable healthcare reforms went into effect yesterday.  Notably, a number of women’s preventative services are now required to be covered by non-grandfathered healthcare plans.  One of the (unanswered) questions raised in the medical malpractice community is how these reforms will affect the frequency of medical malpractice claims, and medical care costs.  A number of commentators have suggested that the reforms will lead to more people receiving healthcare, some of which will be negligent, leading to an increase in medical malpractice cases, leading to increased medical costs.  Others, including the government’s official position, note that better preventive care, fraud prevention, better patient coordination, and other reforms should decrease medical costs overall.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire

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