A close friend of mine had a legitimate suit against a large business. He was directly harmed, the business was caught and punished (for harming him and many other clients), and my friend joined a group lawsuit against this business.

The lawyer running the lawsuit met with my friend and told him, "Sorry but I forgot to file your case in time. There's nothing I can do. The statute of limitations is up for you." It's a little more involved in that but I don't understand legalese. That is the gist. The lawyer was nice and apologized but this seems like a real bad deal for my friend. Everyone else in the case still moves forward, only my friend is out.

Is my friend completely out of luck?

  • What state is this friend in? – BlueDogRanch Nov 8 at 1:22
  • @BlueDogRanch - Missouri – horse hair Nov 8 at 1:31
  • Another reason for litigating in pro per. Regardless, I second BlueDogRanch's idea of suing the first lawyer and reporting that incompetent lawyer with the corresponding attorney disciplinary entity. – Iñaki Viggers Nov 9 at 11:26
up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is a fairly general answer, as much of the nature of what could happen depends on what the first lawyer did or didn't do, state of Missouri laws, and rules of the Missouri State Bar.

The friend could find another lawyer so they both can determine exactly what happened with the forgotten filing by the first lawyer. Your friend will need to find a lawyer who has no conflicts of interest with the first lawyer, which could be difficult.

The first lawyer will realize they need to be truthful about what happened. The new lawyer could advise your friend if the forgotten filing was negligence, an "honest mistake" according to the lawyer, or somewhere in between, and if it might be possible to recover damages for not being part of the original suit, or for breach of contract, etc.

With that evidence, your friend, with the advice and/or help of the new lawyer, could either

1) file a ethics or disciplinary complaint with the Missouri office that disciplines lawyers for ethics and other violations Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel.

2) sue the first lawyer for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty or for breach of contract.

Your friend could file an ethics complaint with the OCDC - and without the aid of a lawyer - with whatever information he/she already has from their work with the first forgetful lawyer. The OCDC complaint process is geared towards non-lawyers. But if your friend gets help from others (non-lawyers) with filing a complaint, check with the OCDC first as to if that is allowed and to what degree.

  • Would lying to a client about the handling of a case really be perjury? Such statements aren't normally made under oath. – phoog Nov 8 at 13:54
  • @phoog that's true; edited. – BlueDogRanch Nov 8 at 15:16
  • 1
    It's also conceivable that the second opinion could be that the suit can go forward for some reason, although I think that unlikely. I'm also puzzled by the "honest mistake" as opposed to negligence. While it could have been a bona fide mistake by the lawyer, that doesn't mean it isn't negligence. I'd think that making an avoidable mistake that violates one's duty is clear negligence. – David Thornley Nov 8 at 17:18

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.