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ARTICLE ID 20696

Legal malpractice - Alleged negligent failure of attorney in underlying red light/green light intersection collision case to adequately detail position regarding times and distances from traffic light - Plaintiff found 50% comparatively negligent in the prior trial of underlying action allegedly as a result of negligence - Liability only.

Essex County

This was a legal malpractice action involving an underlying plaintiff who was found 50% comparatively negligent in the prior red light/green light intersection collision jury trial. The plaintiff contended that although she had indicated in discovery that when she first saw the red light, she was approximately ________ feet away, but she observed that the green turn arrow light preceding the solid green light had activated when she was approximately ________ feet away and that she was practically stopped at approximately ________ feet away when the light turned fully green.

The plaintiff contended that the defendant attorney did not discuss the distance from the intersection when the turn arrow light changed green and that as a result, the underlying defense counsel was able to utilize this omission to perform mathematical calculations to reflect that based upon speed and distance, the plaintiff would have proceeded through a red light.

The plaintiff contended that her attorney, the defendant in this case, had incorrectly placed her twice as far from the intersection when the light turned to a full green, contrary to her deposition testimony and interrogatory answers. There was no eyewitness testimony as to the happening of the accident in the underlying trial and the plaintiff contended that a particularly complete explanation of her description was, therefore, especially necessary. The plaintiff argued that if the defendant attorney had fully explained her description to the jury, they probably would have assessed a lower percentage of comparative negligence.

The defendant contended that the case was properly presented and denied that there was any evidence from which a jury in this malpractice action should find that any different presentation in the underlying action would have impacted on that jury. The defendant attorney maintained that he had made a conscious decision not to elicit the ________ foot testimony from his client.

The plaintiff argued that the defendant attorney had not made such a decision. The plaintiff contended that the attorney’s comments to the trial judge, made after a request for a read back by the jury, contained a statement by the attorney that he had elicited the ________ foot testimony and that a judgmental defense, therefore, should not be available.

The judge in this legal malpractice case directed a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor on two of three contentions of negligence, finding that the attorney’s statements in summation as to her speed and distance at ________ feet were negligent as a matter of law. p 7 3 The jury found for the defendant on the issue of proximate cause.

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