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Professional Liability

Professional Liability

Nemecek & Cole is a recognized leader and expert in the professional liability arena. We have successfully represented hundreds of professionals in arbitrations, state and federal trial courts and before the California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

We have a diverse professional liability practice that includes representation of the following professionals:

Brokers and Agents Trustees and other Fiduciaries Attorneys and Law Firms Accountants and Business Managers Directors and Officers

Representation of Attorneys and Law Firms

Nemecek & Cole devotes a significant part of its professional liability practice to the defense of legal professionals. As the “lawyers for lawyers,” we are called upon daily to advise and represent attorneys from all fields of the legal profession. We represent some of the most prominent and high profile lawyers and law firms in Southern California and the nation in all aspects of litigation, including legal malpractice, conflict of interest, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, abuse of process, defamation and malicious prosecution litigation. We also advise our clients on risk management issues, ethics issues, partnership disputes, employment compliance, and other matters affecting their practice. Because attorney liability often implicates the “case within a case,” our attorneys are well versed in many areas of the law. We have successfully handled hundreds of claims arising out of underlying family law, tax, estate planning, probate, commercial litigation, bankruptcy, business, entertainment, copyright and transactional matters, among others.

We have set significant legal precedent in the attorney malpractice arena and are responsible for the following published decisions:

  • Cole v. Meyer & Associates, Inc. (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 1095
  • [case of first impression - can standby trial counsel can be sued for malicious prosecution]
  • Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs & Shapiro, LLP v. Goff (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 423
  • [parties’ dispute about whether arbitration award is binding can be judicially reviewed] Jocer v. Price (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 559
  • [statute of limitations tolled while attorney absent from state]
  • Freedman v. Brutzkus (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 1065
  • [attorney not liable for approving client’s settlement agreement as to “form and content”]
  • Drum v. San Fernando Valley Bar Ass’n (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 247
  • [attorney cannot sue bar association for its member list]
  • Martorana v. Marlin & Saltzman (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 685
  • [dissident class members barred from suing counsel for inadequate settlement by res judicata and collateral estoppel]
  • Fagelbaum & Heller v. Smylie (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 1351
  • [arbitration waived by seeking affirmative relief]
  • Chang v. Lederman (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 67
  • [estate trust beneficiary could not state claim against testator’s attorney based on attorney’s failure to modify trust to increase beneficiary’s bequest, allegedly in accordance with decedent’s wishes, as requested change not memorialized in written document]
  • Alshafie v. Lallande (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 421
  • [nonresident undertaking]
  • Lazy Acres Market, Inc. v. Tseng (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 1431
  • [insurer appointed attorney had no conflict of interest; legal malpractice plaintiff must plead better result]
  • Tory v. Cochran (2005) 544 U.S. 734
  • [Nemecek & Cole represented famed criminal defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. Whether injunctive relief may be constitutionally awarded as defamation remedy]
  • Leasequip, Inc. v. Dapeer (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 394
  • [circumstances in which attorney equitably estopped from asserting statute of limitations as defense]
  • Howard v. Superior Court (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 745
  • [suit against attorney for aiding and abetting client’s fraud analagous to suit against attorney based on conspiracy with client to determine applicability of Civil Code section 1714.10]
  • Waxman v. Boren, Elperin, Howard & Sloan (1990) 221 Cal.App.3d 519
  • [extension to respond to cross-complaint does not bar discretionary dismissal]

Our success is attributable not only to our results and legal precedent we set, but to the personalized service we offer our clients. We recognize that our clients find litigation disruptive and an attack on their reputation in the legal community. We work closely with our clients to implement a strategy that serves their needs and disposes of the litigation quickly and efficiently with minimal disruption to their practice. Whenever possible, we negotiate confidential settlements on behalf of our clients in order to protect their privacy interests. We foster close relationships not only with our attorney clients, but also with numerous professional liability carriers.

We have panel counsel relationships with the following major professional liability carriers and numerous others across the nation:

  • Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company (one of the largest errors and omissions carriers in the State of California)
  • Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
  • Carolina Casualty Insurance Company
  • Great American Insurance Company
  • St. Paul Insurance Company
  • Admiral Insurance Company
  • First Mercury Insurance Company
  • James River Insurance Company
  • Underwriters at Lloyd’s London (various)
  • Evanston Insurance Company
  • Westport Insurance Company
  • Navigators Insurance Company
  • Swiss Re Insurance Company
  • Farmers Group of Insurance Companies

Representation of Accounting and Business Management Firms

Nemecek & Cole represents accounting and business management firms in a variety of matters, including malpractice, fraud, unfair business practices, securities violations, conflict of interest, breach of fiduciary duty and other tort litigation. We also counsel our accounting and business manager clients on issues involving standard of practice, ethics, dissolution, employment and business practices. Our expertise in professional liability has proven invaluable in representing our accounting clients during litigation, as well as in advising them on non-litigation matters involving professional liability, accountants’ duties, risk management and prevention, and other issues affecting their practice.

Representation of Directors and Officers

In an ever-changing business environment, directors and officers are often faced with issues and strategic decisions that expose them to personal liability. Nemecek & Cole counsels and represents directors and officers in a wide variety of litigation in both state and federal courts. The firm’s representation is vast and includes securities and shareholder litigation, derivative actions, corporate disputes, fraud, indemnity and other matters. The firm also counsels and advises directors and officers regarding their corporate duties and ways to minimize the risk of personal liability.

Representation of Brokers and Agents

Oftentimes, brokers and agents find themselves at risk of defending against claims of errors and omissions and unprofessional conduct. Nemecek & Cole represents and counsels both brokerage firms and individual brokers and agents in a variety of fields. The firm has served as legal counsel to some of the major agencies and brokerage firms, as well as individual real estate brokers and agents, loan officers, consultants, insurance brokers and agents, financial planners and advisors, among others. Our representation of brokers and agents extends to all types of litigation, including breach of contract, negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, failure to disclose, misrepresentation and other matters. We also counsel our broker and agent clients on compliance issues, disclosure requirements, fiduciary obligations and disciplinary issues. We also present seminars on current developments and changes in the laws that assist our clients in avoiding liability.

Representation of Trustees and Other Fiduciaries

Fiduciary litigation is a fast growing area. Fiduciaries entrusted with authority over the management and distribution of a person’s wealth are increasingly subjected to claims by beneficiaries and others claiming entitlement to the assets or property of an estate. Nemecek & Cole represents all types of fiduciaries, including guardians, executors, trustees, administrators and other representatives. We handle a myriad of fiduciary litigation involving wills, trusts, guardianships and estates. We represent fiduciaries in multiple types of disputes involving the standard of care, compensation, will contests, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, allegations of self-dealing and conflict of interest and litigation over the interpretation and validity of estate planning instruments.