A New Jersey court recently refused to dismiss a case involving an attorney who allegedly pressured his client to accept an unfavorable medical malpractice settlement at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approximately one year after the $600,000 settlement was put on the record in the underlying case, Judge Lisa M. Adubato denied attorney Anthony Pope’s request to dismiss his client’s legal malpractice suit. The suit alleges that Pope threatened to withdraw as his client’s counsel if she failed to settle the case. In addition, Pope told his client that she would have to pay all expert fees for a retrial.
In seeking to dismiss his client’s complaint, Pope referenced statements that she made about the settlement before a judge on March 16, 2020. At the time, Pope’s client told the judge that she entered the settlement deal voluntarily and that she was satisfied with Pope’s services.
However, Judge Adubato noted that Pope asked his client cursory questions about the settlement and did not inquire into whether she was satisfied with the outcome. In addition, the judge noted that nothing was put on the record regarding the reason for the settlement.
The case that led to the legal malpractice case involved allegations that a doctor botched Pope’s client’s bilateral tonsillectomy in 2017. Three days after the start of the trial, state officials suspended all new jury trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic but stated that current jury trials could continue. Shortly thereafter, Pope informed his client that the defendants had offered a total settlement of $600,000. In addition, Pope informed his client that a juror had called in sick, presumably with a COVID-19 infection.
Although Pope’s client assumed her case would be canceled due to the juror’s presumed COVID-19 infection, she initially refused the $600,000 offer even if it meant a new trial would be required. However, Pope allegedly told his client that she had to accept the settlement offer since he had spent over $132,000 on her case. In addition, Pope threatened to withdraw as his client’s attorney and force her to pay over $50,000 in expert fees if the case was postponed.
According to the complaint against Pope, the client felt she had no choice but to acquiesce to the settlement offer following Pope’s threats to withdraw and make her pay the expert fees.
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Proving or defending a legal malpractice claim can be complicated. Therefore, if you need assistance with a legal malpractice matter, you need an experienced legal malpractice attorney on your side. When you contact Rosenblatt Law, PC, we will conduct a thorough investigation and choose the best course of action based on the fact of your case. Whether you’ve been harmed by your attorney or accused of malpractice by a client, Rosenblatt Law, PC, is here for you. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.