Lawyers apologize, pay settlement in discredited litigation

In a recent media article chronicling a case of never-really-happened sexual misconduct involving movie executives and young boys, a law school professor notes the subsequently withdrawn litigation filed by a plaintiff’s attorneys and terms the incident “a cautionary tale.”

Other commentators go far beyond that in their comments. One Hollywood producer — a friend of the accused parties — refers to the attorneys who represented the now discredited plaintiff as being “unscrupulous,’ adding that it is incumbent they “take responsibility for their actions.”

And the director of a civil justice program calls the civil lawsuit filed by the lawyers as “trumped-up from the very beginning” and “professionally embarrassing” for the attorneys.

The crux of the litigation featured a contention that the defendants were involved in unlawful sexual conduct with the plaintiff and other minors years ago.

The defendants fought back, filing a malicious prosecution lawsuit of their own.

The plaintiff’s lawyers eventually relented, with one of them writing a letter to the defendants telling them that, “Had I known what I learned after filing the lawsuits, I would never have filed these claims against you.”

That admission reasonably raises the question of whether that attorney and his partner committed legal malpractice through their failure to perform an adequate investigation in the first place, prior to filing a claim and publicly soiling the defendants’ reputations.

The attorneys went beyond merely apologizing to the defendants. They coupled that act by reportedly paying them a settlement of more than $1 million.

Case commentators stated that the settlement amount might be coming from the lawyers’ legal malpractice insurance.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Lawyers apologize to Hollywood execs wrongly accused of sexual abuse,” Abby Sewell, Daniel Miller and Ryan Faughnder, June 8, 2015

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