Sometimes attorneys make a mistake. In Oregon and Denver, given my experience with legal counsel, mistakes are common and have often have a measurable impact on my litigation, even early in the process. Because of the frequency of mistakes I file when they become measurable because failing at least to bring this to the attention of counsel runs the risk of a waiver.
I can tell you that the BAR almost universally denies coverage, even when presented with blatant malpractice. Recently, our friend Joel Christiansen filed a new lawsuit, some 10 months ago. We failed to timely file an anti-slapp motion to dismiss the complaint. More importantly we failed to file a motion to strike for lack of subject jurisdiction. Both mistakes were made by an attorney I’ve known for years and likely resulted from the speed with which he had to enter the litigation.
I asked the BAR to pay a part of his fees to repair the damage for the motion to strike miss and they denied the claim. My reason for asking for this coverage was that for a small price I would be shielded from having to replace counsel while accomplishing the dismissal. Made perfect sense. Naturally I asked the attorney to first repair himself and choose to bring it to the BAR. He refused. I can tell you from experience the attorney almost always refuses to repair his own damage. Perhaps this is a policy position by the BAR AKA Professional Liability Fund. Perhaps not.
The PLF’s denial for coverage is appended here plf-refusal-to-cover. Read on.
The PLF Annual Report can be found here. 2015-annual-report.
THE OSB PLF does not pay claims in any measurable amount. The average amount is tiny. What happens if you have a $5 million claim? You are out of luck. Your attorney is only covered up to $300,000. Hmm. There must be supplemental coverage somewhere right? Where? Larger law firms probably yes. Small firms, no.
If an insurance carrier refuses to pay a claim under an auto or home policy, you have recourse. You can file a complaint to the Insurance Commissioner or hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit. Imagine a circumstance where Allstate only paid on 10% of the insured amount of every car its customers destroyed by way of an auto accident. Imagine that you got into an accident on your brand new $60,000 car and Allstate paid $6,000, in every case.
That’s what the BAR does. They pay $6,000. First they hire a lawyer to represent then and on average pays them $30,000. Then they pay you $6k. The Oregon State BAR PLF has amassed a war chest of money, some $50,000,000 in cash. And it needs to be turned over to the state with the admission and disbarment responsibilities. This war chest represents the savings on more than $30 million a year in revenue.
Don’t misunderstand me. The OSB PLF runs a protection racket. This is a more sophiticated version of the Godfather series on porn, gambling and drugs. The Corleone family bribed judges, police, whoever they had to. The BAR may be doing the same thing.
I have called on the Oregon Department Of Justice to investigate the PLF’S off book payments, to audit the financial statements to determine where the money is going and measure whether the claims are being accurately recorded and paid. Instead of charging attorneys $3,500 per year for coverage, perhaps increasing that to $10,000. Right now claims aren’t being paid, Oregon citizens are being hurt and attorneys are bringing the hurt.
John Grisham’s new book is about judicial corruption. This topic is getting a lot of attention. Before long our judiciaries integrity index will be that of lawyers. ANd folks thats a tragedy. Read more about John Grisham’s new book, “The Whistler”.
” We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.
But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.
Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.
But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.
What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.
But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.
Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.”