Judge Says Law firm Williams & Connolly Must Face Malpractice Claim

Famed law firm Williams & Connolly, based in Washington, D.C., is embroiled in a nearly $8 million legal malpractice claim filed by their former real estate investor clients. The ex-clients have accused the firm of providing negligent legal advice, leading to severe repercussions in a casino development project on Seminole Tribe land in Florida.
Taryn Meryl, a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Brooklyn federal court, just delivered a report recommending the rejection of Williams & Connolly’s claim that there are no disputed facts in the case.
The dispute centers around a $7.8 million judgment that Williams & Connolly secured for their real estate investor clients, Robert Toussie and his brother. The case is a matter of contention over the legal advice offered by the firm regarding whether to settle the judgment or pursue enforcement of the damages award.
According to Merkl’s report, Williams & Connolly failed to demonstrate that the plaintiffs cannot prove essential elements of a legal malpractice claim. The judge’s analysis opens the possibility for the case to proceed to trial, pending a final decision by U.S. District Judge Diane Gujarati.
The legal saga began in 2020 when the Toussies filed a lawsuit in a New York court against Williams & Connolly and a small law firm, Lupkin, which is also a defendant in the case.
The major issue at play is whether Williams & Connolly negligently advised the Toussies about the challenges involved in collecting the judgment as opposed to considering a settlement. The complaint filed by the ex-clients alleged that the firm’s advice caused them to miss a valuable settlement opportunity.
In response, Williams & Connolly contended that they provided repeated warnings to the Toussies about the risks associated with judgment enforcement, emphasizing the possibility of recovering nothing. The firm asserted that the plaintiffs’ portrayal of events was an “entirely false narrative.”
Judge Merkl found the evidence offered by Williams & Connolly thus far to be inconclusive in proving that their advice met the standards of the legal profession, especially concerning complex questions surrounding the case.
As the legal battle continues, the outcome of this high-stakes dispute could have far-reaching implications for both the law firm and other similar prominent firms. The magnitude of the financial claim highlights the seriousness of the allegations against Williams & Connolly and the potential consequences it may face if found liable for malpractice.
The case’s progression now hinges on U.S. District Judge Diane Gujarati’s decision on whether to adopt Judge Merkl’s analysis and allow the matter to proceed to trial.

You can read more about this case here.

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