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Woman hit by lawyer's flung pasta wins over $102,000

Today's post is not technically about legal malpractice but it could still be instructive for lawyers and their clients. A Connecticut woman sued an attorney for $85,000 after she was hit by pasta an attorney had flung during an argument with another man. The pasta, covered in a spicy sauce, struck the woman in the face and eyes, causing her to trip, fall and seriously injure herself.

According to the ABA Journal, the woman was eating in a Connecticut restaurant, as was a 65-year-old real estate lawyer who practices in New Jersey and Maryland. That lawyer allegedly "picked up a bowl or dish full of pasta with fra diavolo sauce and threw it" at his dinner companion, with whom he was arguing.

The woman hit her head in the fall and apparently suffered a concussion followed by headaches, neck pain, back pain, elevated blood pressure and eye pain. She sued the angry lawyer for negligence and battery. The lawyer claimed she had misrepresented the incident and was trying to pass off preexisting injuries as having been caused by the pasta incident.

A jury deliberated for 3-1/2 hours before finding the attorney liable for the woman's injuries. Including interest, the woman will receive over $102,000.

Not every negative action by an attorney constitutes legal malpractice -- even when they throw their dinners in fits of pique.

Generally, a legal malpractice claim must prove:

  1. The lawyer owed a duty to the client (for example, the duty to provide competent and skillful representation).
  2. The lawyer breached that duty.
  3. The breach caused the client an injury or harm.
  4. The harm caused the client financial losses.

There can be a number of barriers in the way of a successful legal malpractice claim, especially when it comes to proving harm. If a legal case were derailed by an attorney's error, for example, the client/plaintiff would have to prove that they would have won the case if not for the error.

If you believe you have been harmed by legal malpractice, don't fling your dinner. Have your situation evaluated by an attorney who handles these cases.

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