Washington court awards man $3 million for lawyer malpractice

The Seattle Times reports that the U.S. District Court in Spokane has awarded a man who was held in Grant County Jail for seven months $3 million dollars for legal malpractice in a civil suit. In making the award, the jury found that the public defender for Felipe G. Vargas, who was falsely accused of child molestation, did not mount a proper defense.

Vargas was arrested and placed in jail in November 2003 where he remained for seven months although his accuser recanted three days later. Vargas’ court-appointed attorney was Grant County Public Defender Thomas Earl. Earl was working under a contract which paid him $500,000 annually. In finding Earl negligent in his representation of Vargas, the court heard testimony that Earl did not hire experts and investigators to clear Vargas, in part because of his case load, but also because he had a financial incentive not to spend money on services to defend Vargas. Earl was eventually disbarred.

seattle malpractice lawyerA legal ethics professor at Seattle University, John Strait, testified in the trial calling flat fee contracts, “illegal and unethical for any attorney to enter into.” Court watchers across Washington State believe that flat fee contracts for people needing court-appointed lawyers does not provide indigents a fair representation because defenders like Earl may not properly defend a client due to their own profit motive. In September, the Washington State Supreme Court barred any Washington lawyer from working under a contract such as Earl’s.

In an ineffective assistance of counsel case the suit can proceed if it can be prove that an attorney’s negligence deprived their client of their civil rights.

This information is provided by the Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We are a personal injury firm that represent clients for medical malpractice, hospital malpractice and for legal malpractice. If your damages are serious, then you need to contact a skilled attorney. At The Farber Law Group we have more than 30 years experience in representing malpractice cases. We often partner with co-counsel to make sure you have the best legal representation available.

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0 responses to “Washington court awards man $3 million for lawyer malpractice”

  1. I love to read such informative articles. It is good to know what went wrong in which part of the world.. even in distant places, where we do not ever plan to physically visit, we visit there virtually and analyse the complete scene. Thanks for this piece of information to add to my experience! To share my other experiences too, recently, I have come across an article on how efficiently law firms get you the justice, which otherwise, sometimes, gets next to impossible. While reading, I realized how important it is to contact a lawyer whenever you get stuck with any legal related issues. And a family lawyer does not in any way decreases the importance of keeping an international law firms directory handy.