Case Results: Legal Malpractice
Doe Corporation v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson represented a former business owner in a legal malpractice action against a large national law firm. As a result of the law firm’s bad advice, the client was found personally liable for over $700,000 in damages, penalties, attorneys’ fees and interest. After taking over the malpractice lawsuit from prior counsel, Klein & Wilson negotiated a settlement that eliminated the client’s liability entirely.
ReadyLink HealthCare v. Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, LLP
The defendant law firm charged its client almost $5 million in legal fees while handling four sophisticated trade secrets and business cases. None of the four cases went well for the client, despite the fact the client paid millions of dollars of attorneys’ fees. The client hired Klein & Wilson to handle the malpractice case against former counsel, one of the largest law firms in the United States. After a two month long jury trial, the jury awarded Klein & Wilson‘s client every penny it requested on its breach of contract and malpractice claims and awarded the defendant law firm nothing on its cross-claims. The case drew significant attention from the California legal community, and the Los Angeles Daily Journal ran a front-page story about this case. Lewis Brisbois Ordered to Pay Millions for Overbilling.
Doe Law Firm v. Roe Corporation
Klein & Wilson represented a client who was sued for approximately $800,000 in unpaid fees by its former law firm and the law firm’s expert in the underlying case. Klein & Wilson filed a cross-complaint against the law firm, alleging legal malpractice and over billing. Klein & Wilson won approximately 20 different motions and persuaded the court to issue almost $150,000 in sanctions against the law firm for various discovery abuses. Before trial started, Klein & Wilson persuaded the court that the law firm likely committed fraud, resulting in an order entitling Klein & Wilson to conduct discovery regarding the net worth of the firm and its members. After one day of trial, the expert voluntarily dismissed its complaint and received no money. The law firm also dismissed its complaint without receiving a penny, and it paid Klein & Wilson‘s client $1.3 million to settle the legal malpractice claim, resulting in a settlement valued at $2.1 million .
Doe Corporation v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson‘s client (a major employer in San Diego) hired a prominent law firm to evaluate its employment practices. After making a few tweaks to the company’s policies, the law firm said the company was good to go. Years later, the company’s employees filed a class action lawsuit alleging the company’s policies (which the law firm blessed) violated numerous Labor Code sections. The law firm told the client it would defeat the class action in a summary judgment motion. After mediating the employment case, the law firm determined its advice was wrong and advised the client to settle. At a binding arbitration before three retired judges, Klein & Wilson proved the law firm breached its fee agreement (by charging fees for work that had no value) and fell below the standard of care (by steering the client into Labor Code violations). The arbitrators ordered the law firm to disgorge its fees and pay damages which, after correction by the court, total $1.8 million.
Doe City v. Roe City Attorney
Klein & Wilson represented a City against its former City Attorney for legal malpractice arising out of the City Attorney’s failure to identify and resolve a conflict of interest. The conflict of interest sparked negative media attention, a public audit, and a criminal prosecution. Ultimately, the City was forced to reimburse funds spent on a public project. When Klein & Wilson substituted into the case, the former City Attorney refused to offer a penny to resolve the case. After Klein & Wilson evaluated the case and presented the former City Attorney with facts showing it had substantial exposure at trial, Klein & Wilson was successful in resolving the case for $1.5 million without taking a single deposition.
Doe Corporation v. Roe Law Firm
A national law firm represented Klein & Wilson‘s client in patent litigation. That law firm failed to live up to the standard of care in accumulating documents and complying with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, rules 11 and 26. The federal magistrate issued an order in the underlying patent case which caused the large law firm to panic and commit to producing a million documents over a weekend. The documents were produced in disarray, and a critical document was omitted from the production, causing the trial judge to conclude the omission was intentional. Successor counsel took over the case and made additional mistakes, which angered the court. Consequently, the court dismissed the case. The original law firm blamed the client and the successor law firm for the dismissal of the case. Klein & Wilson represented the client, a Fortune 500 company, in its malpractice claim against the first law firm. The law firm cross complained against the client, seeking approximately $1 million of unpaid fees. Klein & Wilson presented a multimedia summary of its case at mediation to convince the law firm it would lose the trial. After watching the multimedia presentation, the law firm abandoned its claim for fees and paid Klein & Wilson‘s client a settlement of $350,000.
Doe Corporation v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson brought a legal malpractice action against one of the largest and most prominent law firms in California for its mishandling of a “bet-the-company” trade secrets case and its failure to recognize serious conflicts of interest. At the time, Klein & Wilson accepted the case, the law firm was demanding approximately $500,000 from the client. Klein & Wilson settled the case on the eve of trial for $725,000 with the law firm agreeing to write-off its entire bill of almost $500,000.
Does v. Roe Corporation
Klein & Wilson represented several clients in a legal malpractice and over billing case. Before taking a single deposition or conducting any discovery, Klein & Wilson was successful in resolving the case in a manner which netted the clients $795,000 .
Doe v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson‘s client hired transitional counsel to negotiate the purchase of a business. The lawyer formed an entity to be the buyer but allowed the individual client to sign a purchase and sale agreement, making the client personally liable if the transaction did not close. When the client had second thoughts about closing the transaction, the client’s attorney told the client he did not have personal exposure if he decided not to close the deal. The client followed the advice. The seller sued the client and recovered a substantial judgment. Klein & Wilson pursued the malpractice case against the transactional attorney and recovered $550,000.
Mraz v. Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein
Klein & Wilson represented a minor against the largest plaintiff’s law firm in the United States, Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein (“LCHB”). After winning a wrongful death trial for the minor, LCHB took a fee from the minor without first obtaining a valid compromise order. At a court trial, Klein & Wilson proved that the minor’s compromise order LCHB obtained, was invalid. Then, Klein & Wilson persuaded the jury to award the minor client $400,000 because of LCHB’s mistake in taking a fee without first obtaining a valid minor’s compromise order. Finally, Klein & Wilson proved that LCHB improperly denied requests for admission before trial. Klein & Wilson won a judgment totaling $533,919.40 for its minor client.
Doe v. Roes
$407,500 (and counting)
Klein & Wilson‘s client leased commercial space to a tenant and a guarantor. The tenant prematurely canceled the lease, causing the client to suffer approximately $850,000 in damages. The client hired a law firm to handle the lease dispute. After filing the lawsuit, the law firm recommended that the client settle with the tenant for $40,000 (because the tenant had no assets) and pursue the guarantor for the remainder of the damages. The client agreed. Unfortunately, the law firm drafted the settlement in a manner which resulted in the release of the guarantor. The guarantor filed a dispositive motion which the court granted, leaving the client with no ability to recover its damages. Klein & Wilson filed a legal malpractice against the responsible lawyers. They had no malpractice insurance. After protracted discovery and law and motion, two of the responsible lawyers paid Klein & Wilson‘s client $407,500 . Right before trial, the most responsible attorney, Paul D. Bojic, filed a bankruptcy petition.
Doe Entity v. Roe Entity
Defendant lawyers represented Klein & Wilson‘s client in an employment dispute. Although the client followed the attorneys’ advice to address an employee claim, the employee filed suit anyway. The client hired a new law firm which could concluded the original advice was incorrect. Klein & Wilson settled a dispute between the client and former counsel by collecting $250,000 from the law firm.
Does v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson recovered $250,000 in a legal malpractice case where the attorneys did a poor job preparing an underlying personal injury and civil rights case. Despite serious issues of causation, Klein & Wilson convinced the law firm’s insurance carrier a jury would overlook the causation issues because of the attorneys’ misconduct.
Doe v. John Roe
One of the largest law firms in the United States sought $747,181.79 from its client in a fee dispute. Klein & Wilson cast doubt on the law firm’s bills by comparing the work product with the amount of time the attorneys billed. The case settled for $165,000 before the fee arbitration. Accordingly, Klein & Wilson saved the client over $500,000.
Doe v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson was hired to pursue a legal malpractice case where every party in the case, including Klein & Wilson‘s client, was a lawyer, and the factual background was so convoluted, settlement seemed beyond reach. Years before the client hired Klein & Wilson, she lost a hotly contested probate matter against her family and was forced to pay a significant attorneys’ fee award. The client appealed the adverse judgment, and the appellate court published an ambiguous opinion (affirming the adverse judgment) which could be read as blaming the client or her attorneys for the adverse trial result.
The client hired another law firm to file a legal malpractice case against the client’s two probate law firms. In the complaint, the client alleged facts which worsened her situation with her family and the lawyer defendants in the legal malpractice case. The client’s family filed a lien on the legal malpractice case, and the defendant lawyers filed a cross-complaint against the client seeking almost $1 million of fees. The parties mediated the case and terminated the mediation with all parties leaving angry.
After this table was set, the client hired Klein & Wilson to get out of the mess in which she found herself. We spent the better part of a year negotiating with the client’s family and her former attorneys. Everyone wanted a global settlement to be contingent upon everyone else agreeing to certain conditions, some of them silly. As soon as we resolved one issue, another arose, and the number of moving parts seemed to increase each day. We settled this case by doggedly resolving every obstacle the parties, their attorneys, and their insurance companies threw at us. Most importantly, our client is finished litigating and is happy with the outcome.
Doe v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson represented a client who was badly abused by his attorney at trial. Unknown to the client, the attorney handling the trial had little or no experience trying cases. The attorney had no idea what she was doing in the courtroom. Consequently, the client was saddled with a multi‑million-dollar verdict he did not deserve.
Unfortunately, the attorney did not have malpractice insurance, and it was unlikely she could withstand a significant judgment. Recognizing the reality of the situation, Klein & Wilson settled this case at a discount, without having to file a lawsuit and burn more money in legal fees. The client was happy with the confidential settlement which the firm achieved without doing much more than writing letters.
Doe v. Roe Law Firm
Klein & Wilson‘s client hired a law firm to represent her in a divorce case. The attorney did a poor job preparing her case for trial and relied too heavily upon an expert who did not know what she was doing. When the client complained that the expert’s report was filled with mathematical mistakes, the lawyer panicked, made an inappropriate physical contact with the client, and forcefully told the client she had to settle. Klein & Wilson‘s client decided she could not trust the attorney and was also afraid of him because of his physical aggression. She terminated his services and asked the court for a trial continuance, but the court refused to continue the trial. The trial ended in a predictable disaster. The defense contended the client’s wounds were “self-inflicted” and that it was her discharge of the attorney which led to the disastrous trial result. Klein & Wilson was able to achieve a favorable confidential settlement for its client, allowing her to get back on track with her life and not be distracted by further litigation.
Kessler v. Horan
In this attorney malpractice action, Klein & Wilson represented an investor who purchased real estate in Newport Beach. The attorney who represented Klein & Wilson‘s client in the transaction botched the transaction so badly, the client’s title to the property was unclear, which resulted in several other lawsuits being filed. The attorney denied all liability and the case went to trial. The attorney was represented by one of Orange County’s most experienced trial attorneys. Nevertheless, Klein & Wilson prevailed at trial and recovered all the damages it requested.
Overton, Lyman & Prince v. John Doe
Overton, Lyman & Prince, a prominent law firm, sued a former client for fees. Mr. Klein represented the client. At trial, the court determined the Overton firm had not proved its case. The court granted a defense verdict in favor of Mr. Klein’s client.
Sjostrom v. Pepper Hamilton, LLP
Klein & Wilson‘s client purchased a business and expected to have a covenant not to compete in the sales agreement, which would have prevented the owners of the assets from competing against him. The client discovered that his lawyers did not properly draft the covenant not to compete. The client sued his former counsel, one of the largest law firms in the county. Klein & Wilson worked cooperatively with opposing counsel to resolve this case satisfactorily for all sides, without a large expenditure of legal fees.
Wells Fargo Bank v. Cahill
Descendants of President Ulysses S. Grant filed a malpractice action against their legal advisor and Klein & Wilson‘s client, a real estate advisor, claiming professional malpractice. Klein & Wilson was able to achieve a settlement for less than 10 percent (10%) of what it would have cost the client to go to trial.