In this case, the negligent lawyer believed there was no way he could end the lawsuit against my client’s companies. Those companies were sued for unpaid attorney’s fees and my client, Mr. S, counter-sued for legal malpractice. The claims were based on a lawsuit that the negligent lawyer defended against a bank that sued my client’s companies for breach of a contract. My client knew that he was liable to the bank but wanted to find out the number of damages the bank claimed because he did not think the bank had actually lost much money from the breach of contract. After the bank produced an expert for deposition, it was learned that the bank’s damages were only $16,000.00. At that point, Mr. S authorized his lawyer to offer that amount and bring the lawsuit to an end.
The lawyer attempted to do so by sending a letter offering the money, but the bank refused the offer. At this point, the lawyer believed there was nothing he could do to end the lawsuit. He continued to proceed with the lawsuit, billing my client all the way. The case actually went to a jury trial. After a short trial, the jury awarded the bank exactly $16,000.00. After the trial, the judge awarded attorneys fees to the bank, which were then assessed against my client’s company.
The lawyer’s negligence was his mistaken belief that there was nothing he could do to bring the lawsuit with the bank to an end. In fact, in Florida law, there is a procedure called tender, which requires that you actually deliver the money and make it available to the other side. Another alternative is depositing the money with the court and have the court intervene to end the lawsuit. The negligent lawyer did not perform any of these actions. He did, however, bill a lot of money for taking the case to trial unnecessarily.
The case was litigated for over a year. After many depositions, court hearings and two mediations, the negligent lawyer’s insurance company finally paid a confidential six-figure settlement. Hopefully, this lawyer learned how it is possible to stop a lawsuit when the defendant party does not dispute any issue in the case and wants the litigation to end.
If you think you may be a victim of legal malpractice in Florida, contact the Orlando legal malpractice attorney at 407-781-0420.