A jury found a lawyer employed by Morgan & Morgan law firm liable for $5 million dollars in damages. Morgan & Morgan attorney Armando Lauritano had been representing the Bradenton couple Shawna and Rock Pollock Sr. in a medical malpractice case. Pollock and her child, Rock Pollock Jr. suffered significant injuries while she was in labor in November 2006. After mishandling their case and losing them potential millions in compensation for injuries due to legal malpractice, the Pollocks sued Morgan & Morgan for said legal malpractice and have since been awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
If this situation sounds familiar because your personal injury lawyer has mismanaged your claim, Dolman Law Group encourages you to continue reading to learn more about legal malpractice. After someone else's negligence results in your injuries, you may have trusted your personal injury lawyer to provide quality representation. Unfortunately, some accident injury lawyers don't live up to this expectation. Dolman Law Group offers free consultations for clients who are considering pursuing a legal malpractice lawsuit against their former representatives.
The Pollocks' Florida Medical Malpractice Claim
When Shawna and Rock Pollock Sr. were expecting a child in November of 2006, they experienced a truly tragic series of events, beginning with medical malpractice and compounded by legal malpractice by a Morgan & Morgan lawyer. The substandard medical treatment Shawna received led to Shawna and their child Rock Jr. suffering severe injury due to medical malpractice. When Shawna Pollock went into labor, her uterus ruptured. This occurred after an emergency C-section was called for much too late in her childbirth procedure.
A uterine rupture is a rare but serious birth complication where the mother's uterus tears and the baby can slip into the mother's abdomen causing injury. A baby that slips into a mother's abdomen will not be able to breathe. If not promptly removed, it can asphyxiate and die or, in the Pollocks' case, suffer brain damage due to the lack of oxygen. The mother also suffers an injury to her uterus, and her reproductive capabilities are severely compromised by a uterine rupture.
Due to the injuries the Pollocks suffered because of a late C-section, they decided to pursue a medical malpractice claim. This claim named the obstetrics practice, nurse-midwife, and hospital that were involved in the childbirth. They were represented by Armando Lauritano of Morgan & Morgan, a personal injury law firm that started in Florida. Lauritano eventually withdrew from representing them after it became clear Rock Jr. would qualify for no-fault benefits from the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, and the statute of limitations for Shawna Pollock to seek compensation for her injuries was passed.
The Pollocks' Legal Malpractice Lawsuit Against Morgan & Morgan
Eventually, the Pollocks came to sue Morgan & Morgan for legal malpractice with the assistance of Donald St. Denis, a Jacksonville-based attorney. St. Denis made the claim that Armand Lauritano was so intent on securing a large, potentially multimillion-dollar verdict in the underlying medical malpractice case involving the injuries to Rock Pollock Jr. that he neglected the parents' injuries. In doing so, St. Denis claimed Lauritano had ended up costing them a potentially multimillion-dollar settlement.
St. Denis said that in addition to neglecting the parental injury aspect of the case, Armand Lauritano's withdrawal left the Pollocks in a precarious legal position. He also claimed Lauritano's actions subjected them to severe financial hardship. Additionally, the mother's injuries deprived Pollock and her husband of the ability to be intimate as well as have more children.
The Pollocks' side of the case argues that Armand Lauritano is guilty of legal malpractice. This is based on his failure to focus on Shawna Pollock's injuries instead of just the boy's. Her injuries led to her not being able to have other children. They argue that Armand Lauritano should have filed an affidavit that detailed Shawna Pollock's injuries. This would have preserved her medical malpractice injury claim, which would have allowed the couple a chance to win their medical malpractice lawsuit.
Morgan & Morgan Originally Found Liable for $5 Million
On October 17th, a verdict was reached that held that if the medical malpractice case of the Pollocks had proceeded to trial, the gynecology office and midwife would have owed $4.5 million in damages to the Pollocks. It was also determined that the Sarasota County Public Hospital District would have been responsible for $500,000.
It maintained that due to Armand Lauritano and Morgan & Morgan's mishandling of the Pollocks' medical malpractice claim, they were liable for the $5 million that the Pollocks potentially could have gotten from their claim. Morgan & Morgan wishes to appeal the verdict. Its founder, John Morgan, stated: “We fully expect to win outright on appeal and have a judgment entered by the appellate courts in our favor.”
Judge Drastically Reduces Pollock's Settlement From Morgan & Morgan
In 2020, a judge resolved the appeal made by Morgan & Morgan. While the judge confirmed that Lauritano cost the Pollocks significant compensation, he ultimately reduced Morgan & Morgan's financial responsibility from 4.5 million to $250,000. The judge determined that the Pollocks had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Gulf Coast Obstetrics and Gynecology would have been able to pay out the full 4.5. million.
Instead, the negligent practice would only have paid $250,000 out of their insurance policy. That left Morgan & Morgan on the hook for their failure to seek out this $250,000 instead of the original 4.5 million. Morgan & Morgan did not challenge the $500,000 from the Sarasota County Public Hospital District. In total, the Pollocks received only $750,000.
What Is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice happens when an attorney handles a case inappropriately due to negligence or with intent to harm. Additionally, their actions must have caused damages to a client. Just because a lawyer makes a mistake or is somewhat incompetent, does not mean that they are committing legal malpractice.
Qualifications for a Florida Legal Malpractice Lawsuit
For a lawyer to commit legal malpractice, they have to be negligent. That means that they made a mistake or failed to do something that a competent lawyer of their level would not have done. Legal malpractice is similar to medical malpractice cases in that comparison is usually key in determining negligence. In medical malpractice claims, providers are held to the standard of care. A similar concept exists in the legal field. If a lawyer's contemporaries would not have taken the same actions, then it could be considered legal malpractice. The actions of the lawyer in question would constitute a breach of duty in terms of legal standards.
In addition to negligence, legal malpractice requires other criteria to be met. This includes a relationship between a client and an attorney, as well as a financial loss. The financial loss must have been definitively caused by the negligence of the lawyer. This means that it needs to be proven that the lawyer's actions or inaction directly ruined a potential financial reward from a case that was otherwise ruined. This can often be more difficult than it seems. First, you would have to prove a case's potential, which isn't always guaranteed.
Why Should I Choose Dolman Law Group to Represent Me?
After your previous personal injury lawyer has let you down, you may understandably be cautious when seeking new representation. At Dolman Law Group, we would encourage you to thoroughly vet any personal injury lawyers you are considering hiring. Do your own research, take advantage of their free consultations, and read reviews from former clients.
A sign of a quality personal injury lawyer is a consistent record of success, not just a few flashy settlements. Dolman Law Group has earned a reputation for securing fair settlements with our strong work ethic and hard-won expertise. We are also known for taking on tough claims.
In fact, other personal injury law firms often refer their most complicated cases to us. Our legal malpractice attorneys are prepared to pursue all avenues in order to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Florida Legal Malpractice Lawsuit Today
Personal injury lawyers have a responsibility to their clients to thoroughly investigate their claims and pursue possible damages. When they fail, their clients can be left with the burden of costs like lost wages, medical bills, and loss of consortium.
At Dolman Law Group, we understand it's devastating to be let down by someone you trusted with your future. Our team will go above and beyond to ensure that they are held accountable for their legal malpractice. We are prepared to take your legal malpractice lawsuit to trial to recover your damages, if necessary.
While cases like this are not common, it's important to know your legal rights when you have been injured and let down by your personal injury attorney. If you believe your attorney may not have your best interests in mind, call us at (727) 451-6900 or email us through our Contact Us page to schedule a free consultation. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we stand for your rights.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765