Defense Verdict in Florida Legal Malpractice Case
Obtained a defense verdict in a legal malpractice case in Florida. Our clients, two board-certified construction lawyers, had unsuccessfully defended the plaintiff, a real estate developer for a project in West Palm Beach, Florida, in a lawsuit brought by the general contractor that ended with an adverse jury verdict of over $1 million. In the underlying lawsuit, the two lawyers pursued a litigation strategy that, upon reflection, had little chance of success. The lawyers never communicated to their client the prospect of an adverse result, at least not in writing. During the underlying trial, the judge made critical comments concerning the attorneys' preparation and made several adverse rulings, including dismissing a third-party complaint against one party, stating that the lawyer had sued the wrong party, and another ruling excluding their primary expert because the expert's opinions were not properly disclosed during discovery. Our defense focused on the theme that the legal advice and strategy the attorneys provided to their client was based on inaccurate information supplied by the client; that the client deliberately withheld critical information; that their developer was the one in control of the underlying litigation strategy; and that his own actions and trial testimony undermined his case, not the actions of his attorneys. The trial lasted 14 days; the plaintiff's case took ten and one-half days to present three live witnesses; and there were over 500 exhibits admitted into evidence. The defense case was presented in two and one-half days with testimony from four live witnesses, including the plaintiff's attorney from the underlying trial. The jury deliberated for less than one and one-half hours before returning a defense verdict on all counts.