A NJ workers' compensation firm, successor to another firm representing the claimant in a workers' compensation claim, has prevailed on appeal in defending against charges of providing negligent advice to an injured worker. The successor firm was joined as a third-party defendant in a legal malpractice claim where the claimant alleged that he should have been furnished advice about his claim for retirement benefits.
While the court reasoned that the injured worker may have had a viable cause of action against the law firm, the mechanism of a third-party joinder was not an effective method of bringing a claim. The withdrawing defendant-law firm, that had previously presented the worker, was not entitled under the law to join the successor firm for contribution. The court concluded, "...that attorneys in this situation cannot be characterized as joint tortfeasors and that a successor attorney owes no duty to a predecessor attorney to correct the predecessor's errors."
Summary Judgement was granted the third-party defendant firm and it was awarded sanctions $16,622.49) and expenses ($15,555.20) against the defendant firm for filing a frivolous claim.
Arthur v Klitzman & Gallagher v. Ansell, et al. and Schebell, et al., 2010 WL 163194 (N.J.Super.A.D.) Decided November 23, 2009
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