Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Malpractice claim in case that settled

The Chicago Personal Injury Blog is reporting today on an interesting malpractice case filed by Goodyear and Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. against two of its former attorneys. The plaintiffs claim that the attorneys' negligence cost them what they believed would be an easy victory in a product liability case. The original case involved a claim by two plaintiffs who suffered injuries when their motorcycle's tire deflated suddenly causing them to crash. According to the story, Goodyear is claiming that the lawyers failed to demand a jury trial; made errors resulting in the judge striking expert witness testimony; and various errors in their cross-examination. Goodyear claims that they should have easily won the case had it not been for the attorney's conduct. But, here is the interesting part: Goodyear didn't lose the case. It agreed to settle that original case. It does not sound like plaintiffs are arguing negligence in inducing it to settle (which would be difficult to prove, I think, given that Goodyear is a sophisticated business client which, I assume, has its own in-house legal resources). So the question is whether the plaintiffs can support a claim for malpractice which requires them to show they would have won the case. In most jurisdictions it would not be enough to show that they would not have settled, or that they would have settled for better terms. Also, does the fact that they decided to settle become now support for a defense? Didn't their decision to settle contribute to their loss in some way?

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