In hindsight, is it legal malpractice not to properly advise a client regarding a settlement offer?
Rebuffed Deals Support Legal Malpractice Claim
March 7, 2014. By Ryan Abbott for Courthouse News. courthousenews.com
WASHINGTON (CN) – A woman whose son police shot and killed may have a legal malpractice case against the lawyers who allegedly advised her to pass on a $3 million settlement, a federal judge ruled.
police allegedly followed the son of Mable Jones from Maryland into Virginia on Sept. 1, 2000, then shot him five times, killing him.
Jones hired Gregory Lattimer and Ted Williams to pursue wrongful death and civil rights claims, but she lost the claim and the subsequent appeal.
In a 2012 complaint against the lawyers, Jones said she was offered a $3 million settlement while the case was in federal court and $1 million in her Maryland Circuit Court trial.
She claimed to have turned down the offers because her lawyers “never advised [her] of the risk” and “failed to advise [her] that she lacked standing to pursue a claim and should accept the monies being offered.”
Though Williams filed an answer, Lattimer moved to dismiss the malpractice claim for supposed failure to state a claim and a lapsed statute of limitations.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell sided with Jones, however, it valid for her to claim that Lattimer advised her to turn down settlements.
“Accordingly, because it is clear from the face of the complaint that the defendant represented the plaintiff within three years of the plaintiff filing the complaint, and because the defendant’s countervailing arguments are unavailing, the court denies the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint as barred by the statute of limitations,” Howell wrote.
The judge also denied Lattimer’s contention that discovery is unnecessary in the case.