Professional Liability

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Overview

Professional Liability

For more than 25 years, Connell Foley has held a preeminent position in the field of professional liability litigation. Responding to the needs of the firm’s professional and insurance clients, the firm has assembled a team of attorneys dedicated to the representation, counseling, and defense of attorneys, judges, architects, engineers, surveyors, physicians and other medical providers, accountants, directors and officers, insurance/real estate agents and brokers, and other professionals in substantial pre-litigation and litigation matters in both state and federal courts, including before the United States Supreme Court.

Fully Integrated Litigation Services

Members of our Professional Liability practice group, including several Civil Trial Attorneys as certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court, have extensive experience representing professionals before administrative agencies as well as in all alternative dispute resolution forums, including arbitration and mediation. While the firm prides itself on the ability of its attorneys to achieve successful jury verdicts in professional liability matters, the firm also recognizes that alternative dispute resolution options should usually be explored, where appropriate, to facilitate an expedited, cost-effective conclusion while obtaining the best outcome for the client.

Thought Leadership

We also take pride in having lectured and written on professional liability issues ranging from risk management to current defense and coverage issues. The breadth of experience we possess makes Connell Foley well suited to handle all varieties of professional liability matters.

Our Long-Standing Commitment to Professional Liability Issues

The commitment of the firm to the demands of professional liability litigation has fostered a deep appreciation of the unique issues presented by such high-risk litigation and the devastating impact such matters can have on the professional faced with serious allegations of professional fault. 

Our extensive professional liability experience includes the representation, counseling, and defense of professionals in the following areas:

Legal Malpractice

The Professional Liability practice group has represented attorneys and firms ranging from solo practitioners to major international law firms in professional litigation matters sounding in professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud in both federal and state courts as well as in all alternative dispute resolution forums. In this regard, our group has represented attorneys and law firms confronted with claims arising from every substantive area of practice, including commercial and business law, trusts and estates, professional liability, construction law, criminal law, matrimonial law, and real estate law, including disputes under the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act. 

The attorneys in the group have dedicated their practices to the professional and ethical obligations of attorneys as reflected in the fact that several members of the group have served as members of the New Jersey Supreme Court District Ethics Committees and lecture regularly before corporate counsel associations, insurance carriers, and attorney associations on topics ranging from risk management for attorneys to the Rules of Professional Conduct. Further, members of the group have been selected to serve in professional liability leadership positions in state and national bar associations, including the American Bar Association and Defense Research Institute.

Representative legal malpractice cases include:

  • Representation of a major international law firm in defense of substantial claims of professional liability and breach of fiduciary duty arising from professional services rendered in a commercial arbitration, securing summary judgment dismissing professional liability claims and an unanimous jury verdict at trial involving a claim of approximately $1.5 million
  • Representation of regional and state law firms in State Court litigation in defense of claims of professional malpractice arising from the conveyance of contaminated real property
  • Representation of regional law firm and its attorneys in legal malpractice actions stemming from commercial real estate transactions

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Architectural/Engineering Malpractice

The Professional Liability practice group has substantial experience in the complexities of pre-litigation and litigation malpractice claims against design professionals and provides defense counsel services to many local, regional, national, and international architectural and engineering firms faced with substantial claims of professional fault, including actions for damages by project owners, public entities, and contractors in all project settings. 

Our group’s services include representing members of the design community in significant disputes arising from a wide variety of major projects, including bridges and related structures, cultural centers, office structures, wastewater treatment plants, condominium and office complex projects, and major roadways. Members of the group are active in professional associations, including the American Institute of Architects.

Representative architect/engineering malpractice cases include:

  • Representation of international environmental engineering firm relevant to professional liability claims of public entity in Federal Court litigation arising from design and construction services on plant renovation project at a major New Jersey wastewater treatment facility
  • Representation of national engineering firm relevant to professional liability claims of contractor in Federal Court litigation arising from design, construction, and contract administration on the Shark River Bridge Renovation Project for the New Jersey Department of Transportation
  • Representation of international engineering firm in State Court litigation arising from claims of public entity sounding in professional liability related to design, construction, contract administration, and product specification regarding substantial centrifuge renovation project at a major New Jersey wastewater treatment facility
  • Representation of national engineering firm on claims of professional liability related to bridge renovation projects
  • Representation of national geotechnical engineering firm in defense of professional liability and design defect claims associated with large-scale commercial and residential development
  • Representation of national architectural firm in defense of breach of contract and professional liability claims concerning design and construction of cold-storage warehouse
  • Representation of structural and geotechnical engineer in defense of professional liability and breach of contract claims relevant to construction of multi-level parking garage and residential development  
  • Representation of architectural, engineering and surveying firms relevant to pre-litigation and litigation claims of professional malpractice by private project developers and contractors regarding all aspects of professional services, including project evaluations, design, governmental approvals, construction and contract administration, delay claims, and construction defect claims

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Medical Malpractice

The Professional Liability practice group has for years represented physicians, nurses, and major healthcare institutions – including many of the largest in New Jersey – when confronted with catastrophic claims of medical malpractice. Our group’s attorneys have represented physicians, long-term care providers, and other healthcare providers in malpractice actions involving most major medical specializations, including obstetrics, cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, internal medicine, and surgery, in actions litigated and tried in federal and state courts.

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Accountants

Connell Foley’s Professional Liability practice group has experience defending accounting firms, tax preparers, auditors, and other financial consultants. The group has also provided assistance to accounting professionals in response to the service of subpoenas, keeping in mind the importance of preserving confidential communications and documents.

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Directors and Officers

Through our Professional Liability practice group, Connell Foley provides quality representation to corporate directors and officers in litigation, including non-profit entities and public and private companies. The group has decades of experience defending director and officer clients in class action securities fraud suits and shareholder derivative actions, as well as in suits alleging claims for breach of fiduciary duty, self-dealing, usurpation of corporate opportunities, unlawful distribution of corporate assets, discrimination, and other alleged wrongdoing.

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Real Estate and Insurance Agents and Brokers

Our group has a record of successful defense of real estate and insurance agents and brokers confronting claims of professional fault, including in state licensing settings as well as in litigation actions.

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Publications

Robert E. Ryan authors "2012: Legal Malpractice and the Rules of Professional Conduct"

Karen Painter Randall and Andrew C. Sayles co-author "Informed Consent and Legal Malpractice," published in For The Defense, In-House Defense Quarterly| DRI (May 2009)

Karen Painter Randall and Andrew C. Sayles co-author “Mistakes That Lead to Malpractice: Common Sense Approaches to Reduce Your Risk," published in USLAW Magazine (2008)

Karen Painter Randall co-authors "When Attorneys are Subpoenaed: How to Navigate the Evidentiary and Ethical Minefield," published in New Jersey Lawyer Magazine (2006)

Karen Painter Randall provides insight into "Professional Ethics And The Retention of Closed Clients' Files," publihsed in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (2003)

Steve Barnett authors "New Jersey Supreme Court Expands Liability for Engineering Professionals" (1996)