Double Victories for Legal Malpractice Cases in New Jersey
Case Study

Double Victories for Legal Malpractice Cases in New Jersey

June 27, 2022

Matthew S. Marrone, partner and vice chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Management and Professional Liability practice group, has achieved two recent victories in New Jersey legal malpractice cases.

The first case had a complicated and contentious history, with multiple parties, numerous counts, and millions of dollars at stake. Matt represented a well-known legal malpractice plaintiffs’ lawyer who authored an affidavit of merit in support of a legal malpractice case filed by a different legal malpractice plaintiffs’ lawyer. The lawyer defendants in that case challenged the affidavit of merit on the alleged grounds that the affiant—our client—had a personal and business relationship with the legal malpractice plaintiffs’ lawyer in the case. The lawyer defendants also filed a third-party complaint against our client, alleging fraud and conspiracy with the plaintiffs’ lawyer.

Matt filed a motion to dismiss the third-party complaint, arguing that the affidavit of merit was perfectly compliant with New Jersey’s affidavit of merit statute, that the affidavit should be accepted by the court—which would allow the legal malpractice case to proceed against the lawyer defendants—and that the third-party complaint against our client should be dismissed. The court agreed. Notably, on the same day Matt argued his motion, five other motions to dismiss were also argued by other parties; only Matt succeeded.

In the second case, Matt represented a well-known medical malpractice plaintiffs’ lawyer who settled a case for his client for $1.5 million. The settlement funds were placed into an irrevocable special needs trust to be used to pay for the client’s medical care. Many months later, the client consulted with a different attorney for estate planning. The client died years later, leaving behind a sister and a girlfriend who were to share in the decedent’s estate. According to the girlfriend, however, the will did not properly trigger a provision in the trust to allow her to receive a portion of the remaining trust proceeds, which all went to the decedent’s sister. The girlfriend sued our client as well as the estate-planning attorney.

Matt filed a motion to dismiss raising several arguments, most notably that our client had nothing to do with the later estate planning and owed no duty to the decedent’s girlfriend. In spite of the plaintiff’s counsel’s efforts to hold our client in the case at least through the discovery period, the court agreed with Matt and dismissed him.

With these victories, Matt vindicated his clients’ reputations, and saved them and their insurance carriers immeasurable amounts of money they would have paid to further defend meritless cases.

MORE ABOUT GOLDBERG SEGALLA’S MATTHEW S. MARRONE:

Matthew S. Marrone is vice chair of the firm’s Management and Professional Liability practice group. He has defended hundreds of lawyers, insurance agents and brokers, and other professionals in malpractice and related litigation, and often represents these same professionals in ethics investigations and disciplinary proceedings. Matt has extensive complex jury-trial experience, some involving exposures in excess of $25 million. He is licensed and actively practices throughout all state and federal courts of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.