Legal Malpractice Law Review

Legal Malpractice Law Review

Research, resources & expertise in the law governing lawyers

Category Archives: New Jersey

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NJ Legal Malpractice: LANDMARK LAW: Lawyer Liability for Client Crimes: “My Lawyer Made Me Do It!”

Posted in New Jersey
Winstock v. Galasso, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2013) (Decided May 6, 2013) NJ: Underlying Criminal Plea due to bad legal advice FACTS: This is an appeal from a dismissal by way of summary judgment of plaintiffs’ legal malpractice claim against their former attorney. Plaintiffs sue defendant lawyer for incorrect legal advice which resulted… Continue Reading

NJ: Legal Malpractice=No Underlying Attorneys Fee Charged Against Recovery

Posted in New Jersey
DiStefano v. Greenstone et al., 357 N.J.Super. 352 (App.Div. 2003) NJ: Underlying Case: Personal Injury in foreign country Student Contributor: Percy Pomares Facts: Plaintiff filed claim against defendant for mishandling their personal injury claim. A contingency fee agreement of 33 1/3% was entered into between the plaintiff and defendant in turn for the plaintiff’s representation… Continue Reading

NJ: Legal Malpractice: Exception to the Entire Controversy Doctrine

Posted in Entire Controversy Doctrine, Litigation, New Jersey, Torts/Personal Injury
Donohue v. Kuhn, 696 A.2d 664 (N.J. 1997)  NJ Underlying case: tort/personal injury/wrongful death Student Contributor: John Anzalone Facts: Plaintiffs retained Defendant attorney to represent them in a wrongful death and survivorship suit. The attorney failed to file the cases during the applicable  time period.   Plaintiffs secured another attorney after the statute of limitations… Continue Reading

NJ: The Affidavit of Merit “is in the Mail”

Posted in New Jersey
 Seldon v. Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo, LLP, Unpublished, US District Court, DNJ Feb. 15, 2013 NJ Underlying Case: legal malpractice in handling two underlying civil actions  This is an unreported decision concerning proper service of the affidavit of merit FACTS: Plaintiff represents himself pro se in this legal malpractice action. Defendants made a motion to… Continue Reading


Posted in Damages, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
Professional Malpractice: Recovering Damages in Legal Malpractice Cases: An Update on What Type of Award, and How Much a Client Can Expect (New Jersey Law Journal, January 21, 2013).    In the quickly evolving field of lawyer malpractice, one area that seems to get less attention than others is compensable damages. The question is: What… Continue Reading

NJ: Case of First Impression: “Litigation Privilege” Does Not Protect Attorney From Their Clients

Posted in Litigation, New Jersey
Buchanan v. Leonard 428 N.J. Super 277 (App. Div. 2012) NJ: Underlying Matter: Bankruptcy.  Designated defense counsel sued for malpractice for reporting to  carrier that client committed bankruptcy fraud, which leads carrier to deny coverage. Facts:   Attorney Buchanan was sued by his former clients for filing a legally deficient Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding on their… Continue Reading

NJ: Securing Payment of Fees with a Mortgage on Client Property

Posted in New Jersey
Petit-Clair v. Nelson, 782 A.2d 960 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) NJ: Underlying Client Mortgage to Secure Payment of Legal Fees Student Contributor: Le-el D. Sinai Facts: The defendants in this case are business owners who hired the plaintiff attorney to represent their businesses in litigation. During litigation, defendants agreed to give the plaintiff… Continue Reading

NJ: Clock doesn’t start until post conviction relief is received

Posted in New Jersey
McKnight v. Office of Pub. Defender, 197 N.J. 180 (2008) NJ: Underlying criminal defense Student Contributor: Rachel Vincent Facts: Former client whose guilty plea was set aside, is suing attorney, a public defender because attorney failed to apprise him of immigration consequences of entering a guilty plea. Plaintiff was born in Trinidad and Tobago and… Continue Reading

NJ: Settlement of underlying individual claims doesn’t preclude derivative malpractice claims

Posted in New Jersey
Schulman v. Wolff & Samson, PC, 401 N.J. Super. 467 (App. Div. 2008) NJ: Underlying corporate litigation Student Contributor: Rachel Vincent Facts: Defendants, minority shareholders, are suing attorney for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. Plaintiff Schulman founded Van Mar, Inc., a ladies intimate apparel company. The shareholders of the Van Mar where Schulman… Continue Reading

NJ: Expert witness not needed to prove res ipsa

Posted in New Jersey
Jerista v. Murray, 185 N.J. 175 (2005) NJ: Underlying personal injury Student Contributor: Rachel Vincent Facts: Plaintiffs are suing attorney for legal malpractice alleging that attorney negligently failed to prosecute their person injury lawsuit against super market. In August 1987, plaintiffs were severely injured by a revolving door while exiting a supermarket. Plaintiffs hired defendant… Continue Reading

N.J. An “Unpublished” Primer on Damages and Attorney Fees in Legal Malpractice Actions

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Damages, New Jersey, Real Estate
Nix v. Verp, NJ App Div 2-18-2011 (Not approved for Publication). Underlying matter:  NJ Real estate closing; inappropriate title search resulting in legal malpractice action Ed. Note: We tend to diminish the value of unpublished decisions because of their limited precedential value. But make no mistake. As a means of getting a quick primer on… Continue Reading

NJ: Reasonableness of Attorneys Fees Requires Expert Testimony

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Commercial, New Jersey
Brach, Eichler, etc. v. Ezekwo, 345 N.J. Super. 1 ( App. Div. 2001) NJ: Underlying contract cases Student Contributor: Le-el D. Sinai Facts: Defendant client retained attorney plaintiff to represent her in several attempts to get medical board certification and in disputes with insurance companies. The attempts to get  certification were unsuccessful. The attorney and… Continue Reading

NJ: Beware Mortgages on Client Property to Secure fees

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Conflicts of Interest, Fiduciary Duty, New Jersey
Petit-Clair v. Nelson, 782 A.2d 960 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) NJ: Attorneys fees  Student Contributor: Le-el D. Sinai Facts: The defendants in this case are business owners who hired the plaintiff attorney to represent their businesses in litigation. During litigation, defendants agreed to give the plaintiff attorney mortgage on their home in order… Continue Reading

NJ: Affidavit of Merit Statute and Lateness

Posted in Affidavit/Certificate of Merit, New Jersey
Stoecker v. Echevarria, 975 A. 2d 975 – NJ: Appellate Div. 2009 Student Contributor: Christine Maharaj NJ: Underlying Real Estate Transaction Facts: Plaintiff brought malpractice claim against defendant (attorney) but served affidavit of merit more than 120 days after defendant’s amended answer. The trial court dismissed plaintiff’s claim for failure to comply with the affidavit… Continue Reading

NJ: Attorney Reliance on Defective Title Report Not Malpractice

Posted in New Jersey, Real Estate
Smith v Boyd 272 N.J. Super 186 (L. Div. 1993) NJ: Underlying foreclosure sale Student Contributor James Quinn Facts: Plaintiff won home at sheriff’s foreclosure sale. The sale was conducted at request of second mortgagee, represented by Defendant. However, there had been another mortgage on the property. Defendant relied on title report prepared by insurance… Continue Reading

NJ: Criminal Defense Malpractice

Posted in Criminal Law, New Jersey, Statute of Limitations
McGrogan v. Till, 167 N.J. 414, 771 A.2d 1187 (2001) NJ: Underlying criminal investigation Student Contributor: Jennifer Hanley Facts: The client hired the lawyer to represent him in connection with a criminal investigation. The client subsequently files a legal malpractice claim against the lawyer, for his representation during that investigation. When the client brought that… Continue Reading

NJ: The Lawyer/Broker Conflict

Posted in Fiduciary Duty, New Jersey, Standard of Care, Substantial Factor-Proximate Cause, Wills Trusts & Estates
Lovett v. Estate of Lovett, 250 N.J. Super. 79, 593 A.2d 382 (Ch. Div. 1991) NJ: Underlying will and estate contest Student Contributor: James Quinn Facts: Plaintiffs are two former guardians and children of decedent, who passed away during this action. They allege malpractice by attorney in drafting a more simple will for their father, eliminating… Continue Reading

NJ: Affidavit of Merit? Better Safe then Sorry.

Posted in Expert Witnesses, Family Law, New Jersey, Standard of Care
Prosser v. Zeldin, 2010 WL 5392707 NJ: Underlying Divorce; Affidavit of Merit  Student Contributor: Mordechai Buls FACTS: Defendant represented plaintiff in a divorce proceeding for a marriage in which the ceremony was performed in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. In the divorce case Plaintiff claimed that since there was no valid license, the marriage was not legal.… Continue Reading

NJ: Gere v. Louis and DeBartolo: Another Nail in the Puder Coffin

Posted in Entire Controversy Doctrine, New Jersey
Julia Gere v. Frank A. Louis, Esq., and John DeBartolo, Esq. (A-78-10) (066926) Argued November 7, 2011 — Decided March 6, 2012 NJ: Underlying divorce settlement; entire controversy doctrine In this appeal, the Court considers whether plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim is barred under Puder v. Buechel, 183 N.J. 428 (2005). The Syllabus issued by the… Continue Reading

NJ: The Latest on the Net Opinion Rule

Posted in Commercial, Expert Witnesses, New Jersey
Richard Tietjen, Robert H. Ahrens, III, and Wainwright Estates Partners, LLC v. Richard Mazawey, Esq. (per curiam) (NJ App. Div. Jan. 12, 2012 UNPUBLISHED) NJ: Underlying Commercial Action Student Contributor: Jennifer Hanley Facts: In this legal malpractice case, plaintiffs appeal from the order summarily dismissing their legal malpractice claim against defendant. Plaintiffs had retained defendant… Continue Reading

NJ: The Obligatory Defense of Legal Malpractice to Claims for Nonpayment of Attorney’s Fees

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Commercial, Damages, Litigation, New Jersey
Glass v. Suburban Restoration Co., Inc., 317 N.J. Super. 574, 722 A.2d 944 (App. Div. 1998). NJ Underlying Attorney’s Fee Dispute Student Contributor: Michelle Guardado Facts: Plaintiff attorney provided legal services for defendant for about eight months until defendant discharged plaintiff. During the period plaintiff represented defendant she submitted bills for legal services and disbursements.… Continue Reading