Josh J.T. Byrne
The Legal Intelligencer
Plaintiffs in legal malpractice actions frequently assert that negligence by their lawyer caused the plaintiff to lose an opportunity to settle an underlying action. The Pennsylvania Superior Court has repeatedly stated it "will not permit legal malpractice actions based upon speculations regarding settlement negotiations," as in McCartney v. Dunn & Connor, 386 Pa. Super. 563, 563 A.2d 525 (Pa. Super. 1989), citing to Mariscotti v. Tinari, 335 Pa. Super., 599, 485 A.2d 56, 58 (Pa. Super. 1984). In Schenkel v. Monheit, 266 Pa. Super. 396, 405 A.2d 493, 495 (Pa. Super. 1979), the court held that monetary figures reflecting the "settlement value" of a case discussed during settlement negotiations cannot be alleged as the actual harm necessary to sustain a legal malpractice action.
A New Hyde Park attorney who was suspended last year after being accused of contacting another attorney's client and making disparaging remarks about the attorney has been disbarred after failing to cooperate with the Grievance Committee's investigation into the matter.
"I was on a mad tear," said Andrew Lee Siegel, explaining to a federal judge during his sentencing hearing that he has bipolar disorder and was in a "manic phase" when he misused clients and investors to pay for his expensive lifestyle—and to pay off a civil settlement.
Law firm McLaughlin & Stern and one of its partners "established their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by submitting proof that plaintiff, an experienced investor, understood that the retainer agreement excluded due diligence from the scope of representation," the First Department said.