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October 30, 2018

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A major personal injury law firm has successfully reduced a $5 million legal malpractice verdict against it to $750,000.

The victory-of-sorts came in Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal for Morgan & Morgan, one of its attorneys, Armando Lauritano, and their insurer, Ironshore Insurance Services.

The Nov. 6 decision authored by Judge Daniel Sleet affirmed that Lauritano cost his clients by failing to properly pursue their medical malpractice case but ruled a jury’s $5 million verdict was excessive.

That’s because the plaintiffs – Shawna and Rock Pollock – couldn’t prove the entirety of a $4.5 million verdict against Gulf Coast Obstetrics & Gynecology would have been collectable.

Instead, it was determined Gulf Coast could have only paid $250,000 through an insurance policy because the Pollocks failed to introduce evidence to prove otherwise.

“The Pollocks offered testimony from their expert that such a medical practice with four doctors and three midwives must be worth more than $250,000 and that the members of the practice should have the ability to pay any judgment in excess of the insurance policy limit,” Sleet wrote.

“However, such speculation cannot justify a finding of collectability. The Pollocks did not offer testimony from anyone from Gulf Coast, nor did they introduce any evidence that Gulf Coast was solvent during the time in which the Pollocks would have obtained a judgment against it.”

The Pollocks intended to sue Gulf Coast over neurological injuries suffered by their son during childbirth. They retained Lauritano in 2006.

As required by state law, Lauritano service notice of intent to sue but only did so on the child’s behalf instead of the parents. The suit was filed in May 2008 but Lauritano dismissed it without the Pollocks’ consent to determine if the child’s claim was subject to the exclusive remedy in the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan.

He did not sustain the couple’s claims, however. By the time the NICA proceedings wrapped up, the Pollocks had lost their ability to sue over Shawna’s injuries because the statute of limitations had run out.

They alleged Lauritano failed to perform a proper evaluation of Shawna’s injuries, obtain corroborating opinions, draft and serve proper notice of intent to sue and properly file a lawsuit for Shawna’s claim, as well as negligently abandoning the case.

The legal malpractice jury found Gulf Coast would have been liable for $4.5 million and another defendant for $500,000, which was not challenged on appeal by Lauritano and Morgan & Morgan.

Adding that $500,000 to the reduced verdict regarding Gulf Coast leaves the Pollocks with $750,000.

The new story should read St. Dennis loses his clients 4,250,000 by not proving collectibility. Leaves doors open for legal mal against his firm. Will the Pollocks ever get relief?

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