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Failure to protect client's interests costs attorney $1.2M

A lot can be at stake in any legal proceeding. In criminal matters, a person's liberty and reputation may be at risk. In civil cases, an individual's financial security could hang in the balance. Each system has its own rules of operation.

Knowing the hurdles of the Ohio system of justice and taking all the steps required to clear them are among the reasons why people turn to legal professionals. When an attorney fails to live up to proper standards of practice, the client often suffers the consequences.

If legal malpractice is suspected, there may be cause to pursue a claim for due compensation. There's no reason why the attorney should not be held accountable.

Something as seemingly small as missing a filing deadline can lead to significant loss as is shown by a recent case from Virginia. As a result of a judge's determination of malpractice and a jury's deliberations, a divorce attorney appears to be on the hook for $1.2 million. That's reportedly the amount his client would have received from her ex-husband had the attorney filed the right papers at the proper time.

The couple divorced in 2008. According to the malpractice suit, filed in 2010, the ex-wife claimed she was denied $3,000 a month in spousal support that her ex-husband had promised to pay in the event they split. She said her attorney's missing of a filing deadline was the reason.

Last fall, a judge ruled the attorney had been negligent in properly protecting the interests of his client. And after a two-day trial late last month, a jury ordered the award to be set at $1.2 million. A lawyer for the woman says that's exactly the amount is exactly what had been sought.

The attorney found negligent denies he did anything wrong and says he intends to appeal the matter to the state Supreme Court.

Source: Daily Press, "Newport News jury hands down $1.2 million malpractice verdict against Hampton lawyer," Peter Dujardin, June 2, 2014

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