Aggressive Advocates For Your Rights

January 2012 Archives

Cause and Effect

Uberoi v. Stark & Stark (S & S) is not groundbreaking for the law it presents, but rather for the idea it reinforces in New Jersey legal malpractice claims. Often times, clients may believe they have suffered as a result of the malpractice of attorneys. However, no liability will accompany this feeling of helplessness unless the court is convinced that the attorney's mistake proximately caused damage to the client. As a side note, the case also showed that arbitration will not preclude a successive action if the burden is more strenuous at arbitration.

Time Matters

Rogers v. Cape May County Public Defender's Office is an important case for people who received deficient legal services in relation to a criminal trial. The case provides an important standard for how long a person in New Jersey has to file a legal malpractice claim, following "exoneration."

Framing the Issue

Gorjuice Wrap, Inc. v. Okin, Hollander & De Luca, LLP refined the existing Puderdoctrine in New Jersey, clarifying when it is to be applied. In this case, the plaintiff, Jasmine Kang began a business, and arranged to lease a building. The lease was arranged by an attorney recommended by the landlords, who did not disclose to Kang, his relationship with the landlord. Almost instantly upon moving into the building, there were problems such as leaks, and structural weaknesses. Kang failed to make several lease payments, and the rent became overdue, resulting in arrears. While remaining in arrears, Kang sought legal representation from the defendant law firm in only the property dispute. As the rent dispute continued on, a flood destroyed the building, causing cessation of business by the plaintiff. Kang sought to remove property from the building after the flood; however the landlords had changed the locks. Kang insisted the defendant law firm contact the landlords to allow her to enter, but Kang was still never allowed to enter the building. Eventually, the building was sold, and the new owners allowed Kang to enter; at which time she saw no evidence of her personal property. Kang sued the landlord, and the original attorney. She also settled with the insurance company regarding the flood. The landlords filed for bankruptcy, and Kang received no award. She did settle with the original attorney in that malpractice case. Following these causes of action, Kang sued defendant De Luca for legal malpractice, for failing to obtain an injunction allowing her to enter the building. The trial court applied the Puder doctrine, but the Superior Court overruled them.

When Legal Malpractice is not Available...

Sabella v. Estate of Milides provides a very key point for those interested in legal malpractice claims. Mainly, if one feels they have been wronged by opposing counsel, they need not worry about the lack of an attorney-client relationship, and may instead file a claim alleging abuse of process and wrongful use of civil proceedings.

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