How can I get a lawyer’s insurance to reimburse me for damages when the loss of $16,000 deposit was caused by his negligence?

Asked over 2 years ago - Cambridge, MA

I was misrepresented by a lawyer in a house purchase in MA. As a result of his negligence, my loan was declined and the seller kept my $16,000 deposit. My attorney blackmailed me, telling me through a third party that if I don’t walk away then he will ruin my future by reporting me, so that I wouldn’t pass the bar exam after law school. He failed to negotiate the P&S in a way that protected my interests and to file a notice with the seller's attorney by the contingency deadline notifying them that I had no loan commitment, even though he knew from the mortgage broker that there was no loan. He falsely stated that the loss of deposit was my fault. How can I get this lawyer’s malpractice insurance to reimburse me for my $16,000 of damages?

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Robert Daniel Kelly


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . Suing a lawyer for alleged legal malpractice is extremely difficult for many reasons. Usually, you have to prove the lawyer failed to perform his duties in accordance with applicable standards in the field. You should probably try to find an attorney who works in the field of legal malpractice or professional negligence.

    [In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does... more
  2. Brad W Greenberg


    Contributor Level 4
    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Firstly, I am sorry to hear that this happened to you. If your were represented by this lawyer and he/she assumed responsbility for handling all communications with the seller, was given notice that you would not have financing by the mortgage contingency deadline and he failed to notify the seller prior to the mortgage contingency deadline, (having assumed the duty as part of his representation), such conduct would constitute clear legal malpractice. If he knowingly made false representations to you to conceal his negligence, it would be a violation of the Consumer Protection Act (G.L. c. 93A) and could lead, through a trial only, to your being awarded up to triple damages and attorney's fees. However, you must always bear in mind that proof is everything in pursuing such a claim and that the burden of proof is on you as the claimant to prove it was more likely that not (preponderance of the evidence), that your former attorney had a duty to act (in accordance with the relevant legal standard of care required of an attorney), failed to do so and by failing to do so, you suffered damages or losses. In your case, the primary issues would be whether that attorney represented you and in doing so, assumed the responsibility of notifying the seller of your inability to obtain financing before the deadline after he recieved reasonable notice of said failure to obtain financing. If your attorney had medical malpractice insurance (he must inform the BBO annually as such), and your evidence is strong, such as you wrote him a letter or e-mail stating that you could not obtain financing before the deadline, etc., the malpractice insurance company would likely be willing to settle. If your evidence is relatively weak (he said vs. he said, only), the converse would apply. Insurance companies generally do not have an obligation to pay for violations of the consumer protection law (unless they violate it), as such conduct is considered to be intentional and beyond the scope of most covered claims. I hope this this helps.

  3. Henry Lebensbaum

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You could and report him to the bbo.

    henry lebensbaum esq 300 Brickstone Sq Ste 201 andover, ma -- (978) 749-3606.
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  4. Djuna E Perkins

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . You should consult with an attorney who handles legal malpractice claims. He or she would likely write a letter to the lawyer that would place him on notice of your claim. If he has malpractice insurance, he should notify his carrier and they will contact you. You should also notify the board of bar overseers.

  5. Christopher W. Vaughn-Martel

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . Did you have representation in the dispute over your deposits?

    Did you dispute that the seller was entitled to retain your deposit, or did you just give it to them? I am currently litigating a dispute where a real estate broker failed to obtain reasonable extensions under the P&S agreement, costing my client tens of thousands.

    More facts are needed to determine your best course of action, but you can always start with a demand to the attorney, then a complaint to the BBO, and then a civil suit.

    Best of luck.

    Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts.... more
  6. Steven Mark Sweat


    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Hire a legal malpractice attorney.

    Nothing in this communication should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship. This is for... more

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