Radcliffe Obtains Defense Verdict In $2.7 Million Legal Malpractice Action

Published August 17, 2017

Sacramento, CA

Legal Malpractice: Expert Guidance for RemediesOn the Friday before a Monday trial, Scott Radcliffe was retained to defend a complex legal malpractice action that had been heavily disputed for the prior two years. Plaintiffs, represented by a state certified legal malpractice specialist out of San Francisco, claimed Defendants committed legal malpractice during their representation of their former clients in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Plaintiffs claimed Defendants’ malpractice resulted in the loss of their two houses and a lucrative business. Plaintiffs sought $2.7 million dollars in damages. After a ten-day trial, Plaintiffs received nothing.

Defendants defended the case on the basis that Plaintiffs concealed from their attorneys and the Bankruptcy Court their bank accounts showing substantial receipts of monies and engaged in gambling significant sums of money at casinos during the course of Plaintiffs’ bankruptcy. Through extensive cross-examination at trial, Mr. Radcliffe proved that Plaintiffs concealed that they were earning in excess of $80,000 per month, did not disclose this to their attorneys or the bankruptcy court and gambled thousands of dollars away at casinos while simultaneously telling their attorneys they could not afford their trustee payments of approximately $6,600 per month. Mr. Radcliffe argued that under the laws of the Bankruptcy Court, Plaintiffs’ actions, had they been known, would have precluded Plaintiffs from obtaining a confirmable plan. The Court agreed. The Court found that Plaintiffs concealment of bank records and gambling cut-off the causal element of a legal malpractice claim entitling Defendants to a complete defense verdict.

Following the conclusion of trial, Defendants filed a post-trial motion for costs. Defendants motion was granted and Plaintiffs were ordered to pay Defendants approximately $15,000 in litigation costs.

Vander Zanden v. Laub & Laub et al, Sacramento County Superior Court Case No. 34-2014-00162957.