OBLIC paid approximately $283,257 to resolve 11 claims that were closed in December.
During 2019, we closed a total of 91 claims and 35 disciplinary matters with a total paid on those files of approximately $3,212,304, just a glimpse of some of OBLIC’s efforts in protecting Ohio attorneys.
Payments included loss payments, such as judgments awarded or settlement payments, and the attorneys’ fees and costs OBLIC paid to defend its insureds.
This is part of a continuing monthly series providing information on recently closed claims.
We will provide claim statistics on the areas of practice in which the act, error or omission occurred and generalized information on the cause of recently closed claims. Our intention with this series is to demonstrate the value that we provide to you, our insureds, through the experiences we have had with our other insureds and make you aware of the common areas of risk and ways to avoid similar claims in the future.
Hopefully, by seeing where your colleagues may have taken a step in error, you will know where to be cautious!
Recently closed claims by Area of Practice and alleged cause of the claim:
- Collections – FDCPA suit filed following a successful garnishment order alleging a foreign judgment was not properly domesticated in out-of-state clerk of court’s office prior to garnishment.
- Commercial Matter – Via counterclaim, opposing party alleged Insured conspired with client to oust the opposing party.
- Employment – Client, who did not fit class requirements, alleged that Insured improperly ended representation for the sole purpose of reaching settlement with employer for the other class members.
- General Litigation – Counterclaim for legal malpractice filed against Insured in fee collection lawsuit. Court ruled malpractice claims for affirmative relief were time barred, but permitted former client’s libel and slander claims to continue.
- General Litigation – Allegation that Insured’s decisions in litigation of a case supposedly resulted in a bad faith allegations against clients in testimony and discovery responses.
- Immigration Law – Former law firm associate allegedly opened his own office while employed with Insured and allegedly neglected firm files.
- Plaintiff Personal Injury – Insured allegedly neglected a personal injury claim, resulting in dismissal without prejudice, which allegedly went unnoticed for several years.
- Probate, Estates & Trust – Insured alleged to have untimely recorded a quit-claim deed for a large parcel, thus creating problems with a Medicaid plan that was already underway.
- Probate, Estates & Trust – Claim asserted by nursing home against Insured for allegedly failing to timely appeal the the client’s application for Medicaid benefits.
- Probate, Estates & Trust – Claim by alleged heir against Insured for disbursing estate of decedent absent the court’s determination of whether alleged heir had a right to estate proceeds.
- Other – Alleged unauthorized and improper withdrawals from Insured’s IOLTA account.
The claims closed in December demonstrate that claims can be asserted by parties or arise from events that are not commonly expected.
The probate, estate and trust area of practice continues to be the source of more claims than any other area of practice. A common problem encountered within this area of practice is Medicaid planning, which has its hazards for experienced practitioners but is a potential landmine for unfamiliar practitioners.
Cause of Claim does not mean that the claim was meritorious or that there were any damages arising from the alleged breach of the standard of care. The alleged cause is a brief summary of the allegation made by the claimant against our insured.
In addition to the Recently Closed Claims noted above, we also closed seven disciplinary matters last month.
Disciplinary coverage is separate and apart from the coverage available for “Claims” and is not included in the totals noted above. All OBLIC Legal Professional Liability Policies provide an additional limited legal fee and expense coverage for disciplinary actions. The coverage is designed to reimburse you for the expenses for legal services charged by a lawyer to defend you.
See XIV. LIMITED LEGAL FEE AND EXPENSE COVERAGE FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS in your policy for the terms and conditions of the disciplinary coverage.
* AOP with Two or Less Closed Claims are grouped claims in the following Areas of Practice:
- Administrative Law/Social Security
- Civil Rights
- Consumer Law
- Criminal Juvenile
- Defendant Personal Injury
- Immigration Law
- Municipal – Civil
- Municipal – Criminal
- Municipal – Small Claims
- Plaintiff Legal Malpractice
Carl Marsh, Esq.
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company