OCTLA Top Gun Winner
The Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (“OCTLA”) has named Mark Wilson the 2019 Trial Lawyer of the Year in Legal Malpractice. Mr. Wilson shares about a major legal malpractice case victory achieved in 2019 that contributed to this honor
Transcript: My client was Richman Management Technology, which was the largest security guard company in San Diego. And they have hundreds of employees that guard sports facilities, hospitals, large buildings. They got sued in what’s commonly referred to as a wage and hour class action. And it was a huge case, kind of scary for them. So they went to the biggest and oldest law firm in San Diego to get advice. And it was the Higgs Fletcher & Mack Firm. So Higgs Fletcher & Mack came in and reviewed my client’s employment policies and practices and recognized that my client was doing some things wrong. “We’ve got to completely revamp your entire practice about how you’re dealing with employees.” So my client did all that. My client spent over a million dollars, correcting policies that they understood were wrong under the guidance of the firm. And then out of the blue, my client got sued again for another class action. And it was quite surprising, given there were 13 subclasses. The law firm said, “Hey, don’t worry, you did everything right. We’ll get this case dismissed on summary judgment. Don’t worry about it.” And unfortunately the law firm really didn’t understand that they had guided my client into new claims with the policies that they had recommended. The second lawsuit was much larger and bigger exposure than the first lawsuit. So after I started digging into the case, then I had to look for an employment law specialist to guide me through the various claims, and that was a big struggle. It was hard to find someone willing to testify against the Higgs Fletcher & Mack firm because of its prominence and how big the firm was. He was pretty stunned at what he learned, and he advised me that in fact, all of the policies that my client had put in place in conjunction with the law firm, every one of them violated the law. I get the case, I evaluate it with the employment law specialist, and we conclude that we definitely have a legal malpractice case here. So we filed the action in San Diego, which is gonna be a big problem for me because that’s where Higgs Fletcher & Mack is. I was very worried that we would get an arbitrator in San Diego who knew the law firm well, who would have a hard time finding the law firm negligent. So I negotiated a provision such that we had three arbitrators assigned to the case. A requirement was, was that none of the arbitrators had ever practiced law or been a judge or had any association with San Diego or the law firm. Which I think gave my client a much better shot at getting a truly neutral arbitration. The largest offer that we received in the case was $50,000. But at the end of the day, the, the arbitration award was just shy of $2 million. The result was very satisfying. it’s nice to have your case heard and understand, and to finally win.