(Superior Court, Hudson County, Judge Patrick Arre) Professional Liability-Legal Malpractice-Defense Verdict

SR&A partner David Abrams obtained a defense verdict in a legal malpractice action tried in Hudson County, New Jersey. Plaintiff sued a lawyer and the firm who employed him, contending that defendants failed to provide proper legal services in connection with plaintiffs premises liability personal injury action. The underlying case involved a slip and fall on an alleged icy and snowy sidewalk that resulted in comminuted ankle fractures surgically repaired with insertion of an IM rod and screws. The trial defense focused on proving that, although the legal representation may have fallen short of accepted standards, the plaintiff would not have prevailed against the property owner in the underlying case within a case. Plaintiff claimed he exited a cab and was walking onto the driveway apron curb of his apartment building to go home. At trial, testimony was obtained that, despite a corner area of the driveway bearing a patch of ice, the balance of the driveway apron, and a majority portion of the sidewalk area, had been cleared by the property owner providing ample available walking areas for plaintiff to safely access the property. The jury apparently favored these facts on the ground over the testimony of plaintiffs legal expert (who opined on the likely success of the underlying case) and plaintiffs snow removal expert/meteorologist who testified that the property owner had failed to remove snow after a 13 storm two weeks prior to the accident. In its no cause verdict, the jury found the property owner not negligent, and, accordingly the verdict was rendered in favor of the lawyer and law firm defendants.