Professional Liability Defense

JMBM has broad expertise in defending a variety of professionals in malpractice and other professional liability disputes, including in arbitrations, state and federal court cases and appeals. Our professional liability clients include national and regional law firms and attorneys, global and national actuarial consulting firms, accounting firms, and institutional and individual trustees and other fiduciaries.

In all of these matters, we work closely with our professional clients to resolve potential liability claims in whatever client representation context they arise, including corporate, intellectual property, litigation, partnership, pension and other actuarial consulting, tax, trusts and estate matters. Because these types of disputes can be costly and damaging to our professional clients’ practices and reputations, we work to resolve them promptly, informally and confidentially where possible. As part of this process, we engage fully with our clients’ in-house counsel and insurance carriers, where applicable. 

In litigating our clients’ professional negligence, breach of contract and fiduciary duty disputes, we aggressively identify potential defenses, strategies and avenues to resolution. These may include, among other strategies, compelling mediation, asserting our clients’ rights to arbitration, challenging plaintiffs’ standing, and attacking causation, as clients increasingly seek to hold professional service providers responsible for losses arising from any number of causes. 

The following illustrates the range of matters we frequently handle in the professional liability defense arena.

Representing Attorneys

The defense of legal malpractice claims typically calls for us to quickly grasp negligence, fiduciary and related ethical issues that arise in the context of many different substantive areas of law. Such claims may arise from legal services provided in intellectual property matters, corporate or securities transactions, real estate deals, tax representation or civil litigation itself. Our professional liability litigators combine their extensive experience in defending malpractice cases with the specialized knowledge and technical expertise of the Firm’s own lawyers and retained outside experts to advocate on behalf of our attorney and law firm clients. 

Our professional liability attorneys are particularly well equipped to handle the defense of claims in such complex and technical areas of law as patent prosecution and infringement matters, trademark and copyright registration and infringement disputes, trade secret issues, drafting of complex corporate documents, securities law and tax disputes. Drawing on our lawyers’ substantive experience in these areas including registered patent and trademark lawyers allows us to analyze effectively and defend efficiently malpractice claims arising in these and other technical practice arenas. While we do not hesitate to go to trial when it is in our clients’ best interest, our technical knowledge often allows us to dispose of cases well before trial.

Representing Actuarial Consultants

Jeffer Mangels has been defending global and national actuarial consulting firms for many years against professional negligence and related claims asserted by clients and non-clients. We have litigated actuarial malpractice cases involving pension, workers compensation, health and long term care plans throughout the United States. As a result, we have an in-depth understanding of the arcane actuarial valuation concepts and processes typically at issue, and the ERISA, professional and fiduciary obligations of actuaries and the plan sponsors, trustees, administrators and other service providers with whom actuaries interact. 

Representing Accountants and Business Managers 

The Firm has longstanding client relationships with national, regional and local accounting firms and business managers. Our work in this area ranges from providing tax, trusts and estates and other substantive legal advice, to providing legal expert services and tax controversy and other litigation representation as needed. As is true for our litigation representation of other professionals, we work aggressively to defend our clients and to resolve issues of professional negligence, breach of contract and fiduciary duty quickly and efficiently.

Representing Trustees and Other Fiduciaries 

A significant part of our experience in handling trusts and estate litigation involves representing trustees and other fiduciaries. These include corporate trustees such as banks and trust companies, executors, conservators, guardians, administrators and other fiduciaries. Our expertise and skills in this area of practice combine our in-depth understanding of substantive trust and estate principles, our grasp of often complex legal and financial issues, and our decades’ long experience with the particular litigation procedures and tactics that are key to success in the probate and civil courts, including appeals. 

Recent Successes

Our recent successes in professional liability defense include the following: 

  • Representing a major law firm in compelling and resolving arbitration of professional liability claims arising from the negotiation of tax protection agreements in a complex corporate transaction. 
  • Defending a national law firm against malpractice claims arising from international corporate restructuring transaction and subsequent tax audit. 
  • Obtaining summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds for a national law firm on malpractice claims relating to warrants prepared as part of bankruptcy reorganization. 
  • Representing a law firm and two of its partners in a lawsuit alleging negligence in preparing client’s buy-out offer under shareholder agreement; settled favorably while summary judgment motion on speculative causation was pending.
  • Representing a national law firm and corporate partner in dispute between feuding shareholders; we successfully compelled arbitration and stay of claims against our law firm client pending shareholders’ resolution of their dispute. 
  • Representing a regional law firm in the successful appeal of motion to compel arbitration of claim for allegedly negligent advice as to enforceability of non-compete provision. 
  • Defending a major actuarial consulting firm in federal court lawsuit alleging pension-related misrepresentations in connection with defense contractor’s acquisition of aircraft company’s assets. 
  • Representing a global professional services company in a Texas actuarial malpractice lawsuit relating to retiree healthcare fund; summary judgment in our client’s favor was affirmed on appeal.
  • Representing a defendant actuarial consulting company in a federal court class action suit alleging malpractice in connection with a corporate pension plan spinoff; this case settled favorably with summary judgment motion pending.
  • Defending an actuarial firm against an indemnity cross-complaint filed by former school district client relating to purported COBRA violations; we obtained a voluntary dismissal of the cross-complaint against our client. 
  • Representing a national actuarial consulting firm in defending against a Michigan federal court action alleging actuarial malpractice relating to multi-employer pension plan valuations. 
  • Providing expert witness services on behalf of a regional accounting firm, resulting in favorable litigation outcome. 
  • Representing a national bank against claims of breach of fiduciary duty as trustee; claims were dismissed as part of a court-ordered approval of an accounting.
  • Representing an individual trustee against claims by beneficiaries for breach of fiduciary duty and undue influence; demurrer sustained without leave to amend as to most claims, with remaining claims voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.