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My former atty for a wrongful death lawsuit is now the atty for someone who is suing me for a pers inj in an MVA.Conflct of Int?

Binghamton, NY |

Imagine my surprise when I rec'd a letter from my former attny(in a medical malpractice lawsuit for the wrongful death of my husband)saying that he is now representing a client who is suing me for personal injury in an MVA.I feel so betrayed!When my husband died in 2003,my attny not only advised and counciled me professionally,but was always there for me personally & emotionally during this trying time.On the 2nd day of trial in 2006,the hospital offered a settlement that I accepted.The amt settled on was confidential and undisclosed to everyone other than me,my 16 yr old son and of course my attny.He not only was privy to the amt I was awarded,but all my financial info involving my assets,etc. Isnt this a conflict of interest (Model Rule 1.9)? Im so hurt-where's the loyalty to me?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Rules of Professional Conduct: RULE 1 .9:
    Duties to Former Clients
    (a) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in
    a matter shall not thereafter represent another person
    in the same or a substantially related matter in
    which that person’s interests are materially adverse
    to the interests of the former client unless the former
    client gives informed consent, confirmed in
    writing.
    (b) Unless the former client gives informed consent,
    confirmed in writing, a lawyer shall not knowingly
    represent a person in the same or a substantially related
    matter in which a firm with which the lawyer
    formerly was associated had previously represented
    a client:
    (1) whose interests are materially adverse to that
    person; and
    (2) about whom the lawyer had acquired information
    protected by Rules 1.6 or paragraph (c) of
    this Rule that is material to the matter.
    (c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in
    a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly
    represented a client in a matter shall not
    thereafter:
    (1) use confidential information of the former
    client protected by Rule 1.6 to the disadvantage
    of the former client, except as these Rules
    would permit or require with respect to a current
    client or when the information has become
    generally known; or
    (2) reveal confidential information of the former
    client protected by Rule 1.6 except as these
    Rules would permit or require with respect to
    a current client.

    Sorry for this situation, while it may or may not have been the best judgment I do not see a conflict. You may want to make this known to the attorney assigned the defense by the insurance company. They will have an opportunity to explore and move to disqualify. One point of interest, if your former attorney is capable and qualified, he/she knows how to properly process a file which ultimately helps get the case resolved. As a further aside, even if your former attorney refused the case obviously another lawyer would have handled. Nevertheless, I certainly understand that you may feel violated. Good luck.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff www.nyelderinjurylaw.com


  2. It's insensitive, and not something I would do, but for the reasons Jeff Adams, gave, it's not a conflict of interest.

    Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to Avvo questions are for general information purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.


  3. As suggested, discuss this with the attorney from your carrier. There may or may not be a conflict. But, if not objected to timely, then it is waived. You might inform your carrier and ask to heve legal counsel address the issue. As long as you say nothing else, you might remind the attorney , in writing, that you object to his representation in the current case.
    The nondisclosure settlement may be an issue. It is certainly something he knows about you and cannot reveal to his new client.
    Personally, I would not have taken the case based on the appearance of impropriety alone.

    The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.


  4. Unlikely a conflict, but bad form. The ruffian and should not be used again.

    The answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is for informational purposes only.

    Lassen Law Firm
    1515 Market St #1510
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
    215-510-6755
    http://www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com

    Licensed in PA & NJ. 29% Contingency Fee. Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com


  5. I suggest you notify your insurance company of the situation and ask them to press this issue for you.
    Good Luck


  6. While I understand your being upset, it's very possible the lawyer doesn't even realize he is suing a former client. You say your case settled in 2006, six years ago. It's very possible that this lawyer has a large case load, the other driver came to him with a case of liability and he took the case not ever realizing you were his former client. Perhaps an associate took the case but the claim is filed under your lawyer's name. Even so, I doubt this is an ethical violation as it's two completely unrelated legal matters.