Friday, December 9, 2022

Intentional Torts Not Covered By Malpractice Insurance

If an attorney makes a mistake they are covered by malpractice insurance (assuming they carry it), but if they intentionally commit a crime, well that is a different matter. Most if not all malpractice insurance policies do not cover crimes such as fraud. 

Not that this matters much because the reality is that crimes committed by attorneys are so common they has become normalized. Attorneys are rarely held accountable for such crimes. Rarely but not never

Aiding and abetting and conspiracy claims find their roots in criminal law.   In the civil context, they lead to liability for those who help other actors or a main actor (usually for lawyers it is the client) to commit some tort against a third party.  In practice, this often involves a claim that the lawyer helped the client either commit a fraud on a third party or breach some duty (usually a fiduciary duty) to a third party.

A number of jurisdictions have common law protections for attorneys that can shield them from aiding and abetting claims.  These cases say, as a general matter, that attorneys are privileged to perform honest legal services for their clients and they are protected as a matter of public policy from liability arising out of the those honest legal services.  The theory underlying these cases is the concern that if attorneys are worried about being sued by third parties for representing their clients, then attorneys cannot be effective advisors and advocates for their clients.  These cases are typically older than the cases that allow in-concert liability claims against attorneys, and therefore, while they should be used to respond to such claims, these cases may or may not be persuasive to a reviewing court.  Of course, the question of whether an attorney who aids a client to commit a tort is performing honest legal services that public policy would wish to protect could be another weakness to this argument.

My own  case is a bit different in that Nelly Wince knowingly committed fraud herself. Yet even with overwhelming evidence the legal system just ignores it. 

Our society will be a whole lot better off once lawyers are held accountable for their crimes. I do believe this will happen but it will be a long road to get there. 

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