My attorney was unscrupulous and abandoned me to travel to an out of state NHL playoff game on the eve of a clerks show cause hearing. This obviously distressed me, and I am sending a demand letter for attorney fees paid to successor counsel. Can I make a demand for emotional distress, or is it just actual damages ie: fees paid other lawyers?
You should consult with the second attorney who assisted you with this matter. In most States, emotional damages are typically outside the realm of compensable damages if there is no physical injuries. There are some exceptions to this general rule.
I agree with Attorney Wolf. In Massachusetts emotional distress damages can occur in different types: what's called "garden variety" emotional distress or pain and suffering, which as a compensable item of damages is generally tacked on to claims of physical injury; and negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, which one would generally need to prove with some objective manifestation of the distress (physical upset as a result, psychotherapy records, etc.). (It gets a little more complicated than this, but that's the gist.)
While I'm sure that it was highly upsetting to have your attorney abandon you that way, unless you can show some sort of actual psychic harm suffered that's not in the facts as stated, you don't have provable emotional distress damages.
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