We explore and analyze current issues and relevant topics to help accountants, attorneys, architects and engineers, insurance agents and real estate brokers avoid a professional liability case.
It is not uncommon for professionals who are not a party to a lawsuit to be subpoenaed to provide deposition testimony in the case. As long as the testimony remains factual and does not go into the area of expert testimony, the professional is only entitled to the statutory witness fee for the time of the deposition. The deciding factor is whether the professional is being called as an expert or as a fact witness. If called to provide factual information the professional is aware of, then the only compensation that is allowed is the statutory witness fee (which is currently $25 a day plus mileage, see RSMo. 491.280).
Limitation of liability clauses are not favored in the eyes of the law, but they are often upheld by the courts. To be effective, it is important the clause be reasonable and specific. An enforceable limitation of liability clause may drastically limit the potential liability of the professional. Professionals use contracts on a regular basis to secure payment and to define their scope of services. That very same contract can also be used to protect the professional from costly litigation. Limitation of liability clauses are provisions built into a contract that limit the servicing party’s exposure to damages.
This article reviews the importance of attorneys maintaining professionalism in all legal proceedings. The article reviews a recent Florida case resulting in disbarment of an attorney after alleged disruptive acts during trial and a post-trial hearing.
When Things Go South: A Corporate Director’s or Officer’s Personal Liability to Third Parties for Corporate Misdeeds
Generally, corporate officers and directors do not have a special relationship of trust (i.e., a fiduciary relationship) with third persons or creditors transacting business with the corporation. Moreover, unless they sign in an individual capacity, corporate officers and directors who negotiate and execute a contract on behalf of the corporation are not personally accountable on the contract, even if the corporation later defaults or otherwise breaches the contract. Likewise, corporate officers and directors will not be personally liable for the debts of the corporation, even if involved as an agent of the corporation in undertaking the debt.