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Legal Malpractice: An Ounce of Prevention Can Save You Benjamins

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Benjamin Franklin is famous for many things including his musing that “an ounce of prevention” is worth a “pound of cure.” While that truism applies to many aspects of life, it represents real-world reality when it comes to avoiding legal malpractice. When a few simple steps can avoid disaster, attorneys may want to spend a few “pennies” of their time and consider these steps. 

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Disciplinary Complaint

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“Whether you want to admit it or not, the process has begun and the clock is already ticking.”

You’ve Got Mail (Just Not the Good Kind)

You open your mail box. Flipping through the daily mail, you hope for a check and expect a few bills, but behind a glossy mailer and an annoying letter from opposing counsel, you find a certified letter–and it’s from Office of Disciplinary Counsel. The letter advises that an ethics complaint has been filed against you. Whether you want to admit it or not, the process has begun and the clock is already ticking.  This post explores what happens next.

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MEDIATION: A LITTLE HISTORY

You didn’t expect to be here, but yet here you are — stuck in a lawsuit over which you seem to possess little control.  Now, your lawyer says he wants to “mediate” your case and wants a response from you soon. Unfamiliar with the process, you wonder if you should say “yes.” Maybe a little history will help you to make your choice.

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What Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Has to Do With Spoliation

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For more than a century, the debate has raged over whether Mrs. O’Leary and her famous cow truly started The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Were the tragic events of that conflagration to happen today, someone would ask Mrs. O’Leary to produce the “RFID” chip in her bovine. (You know they would). They would contend that this key evidence could show the whereabouts and movement of the cow at the time the fire began.  When she could not produce it, they would claim not only that she started the fire that destroyed a swath of Chicago, but that she also destroyed the evidence of her guilt. They would cry “spoliation.”

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Discovery in a Digital World

This blog is the first of three that will address the intersection of technology and litigation. The image of a law firm stuffed with banker boxes floor-to-ceiling is shifting to the view of a computer server filled with gigabytes of information. This is increasingly a digital world and the documents, photographs, charts, memos, and emails that are the “stuff” cases are built upon now often come in digital form. As a result, great emphasis is placed upon “electronic discovery.”

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UMM, SHOULD I BUY UM?

 

It’s a question you will have to answer if you purchase automobile liability insurance in Louisiana. While the question may appear simple, many people, even sophisticated people, do not fully understand the purpose of uninsured motorist coverage. 

 

Uninsured motorist coverage (or “UM”) is a form of insurance that can be purchased to protect you, your family, your passengers and/or your workers in the event they are injured in an automobile accident when the at-fault driver is uninsured. Your auto liability policy will not cover your bodily injuries, lost wages and other damages caused by the fault of another. 

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When the Phone Rings: Responding to the Workplace Accident

            Having a response plan in place before an accident is important. It can improve safety, save time, reduce distraction, and limit exposure.”

It will happen, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe six years from now; but if you are an employer of any size, the call will come, and the co-worker, passerby, or caller- in a panicked voice- will inform you that there’s been an accident. You cannot control what has just happened. You can control what you do about it.

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Fourth Circuit Brings Clarity to Peremption Statute in Suit Against Design Professional

The question addressed in MR Pittman Group, LLC versus Plaquemines Parish Government, 2015-0396 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/2/15) was whether the five-year peremptive period set by La. R.S. 9:5607 displaces Louisiana’s general one-year prescriptive period set by La. C.C. art. 3492, when applied to tort claims against design professionals. Finding a contractor’s claim against the project engineers prescribed, the MR Pittman court held that the one-year prescriptive period governs tort claims against design professionals.

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Supreme Court Emphasizes “Error-Correcting” as Proper Role of Appellate Courts

In a 68 page decision, the Louisiana Supreme Court in Hayes Fund for the First United Methodist Church of Welsh, LLC, et al. v. Kerr-McGee Rocky Mountain LLC, et al. forcefully explained the role of an appellate court. It is axiomatic that Louisiana appellate courts are courts of review.  Louisiana law specifically sets the standard of review an appellate court must apply when reviewing a trial court’s factual decisions (manifest error) or its legal decisions (de novo). According to Hayes Fund, a failure to faithfully apply the “manifest error” standard of review where applicable causes an appellate court to function as a “choice-making court” when its proper role is to serve as an “errors-correcting court.”

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The Supreme Court “Cleans Up” the Liability of Merchants for Slip-and-Falls Caused by Independent Contractors

In Thompson v. Winn-Dixie Montogomery, Inc., et al., 2015-C-0477, – So.3d —, the Louisiana Supreme Court recently held that a merchant is not solidarily liable for “slip and fall” damages caused by the actions of an independent contractor, a janitorial services company. Additionally, the Thompson Court addressed the best practices for an appeals court to raise an issue “sua sponte,” i.e, on its own.
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