Another "man-bites-dog" story: doctor's malpractice claim against divorce lawyer thrown out
Dr. Robert Roosenberg sued his first attorney, claiming the attorney mismanaged his divorce from his second wife, Jane Lubin. Both Roosenberg and Lubin are opthalmologists, and each brought substantial property, including a total of 5 or 6 homes, a business, and two retirement accounts to the marriage. Apparently they never completely merged their property during the six year marriage. [We think the legal complications of the divorce have now lasted longer than their cohabitation--which ended in 1999.]
Roosenberg "cherry-picked" the analyses of two successive arbitrators for advantageous provisions, and attempted to hold his first attorney responsible for any of the negative aspects of the ultimate outcome. The Court concluded that his claim was too speculative and that he could not meet the causation requirement of proving that negligence by his attorney had caused him to achieve a poorer outcome in the divorce settlement.
The second of the two arbitrators who decided their property division ultimately concluded that neither doctor was "completely forthcoming" with information about their assets. This arbitrator also found Lubin's behavior "sanctionable" but determined that Roosenberg "did not tell the whole truth" at his deposition, either. The first consensual binding arbitration was voluntarily set aside after Roosenberg's attorneys challenged Lubin's behavior, and the second binding arbitration resulted in a completely different assessment of their property division. It was ultimately upheld, but Roosenberg then sued his original attorney for a refund of his fees and for exemplary damages. He later attempted to seek "mental anguish" damages against the lawyer.
The Court concluded that neither arbitration was more beneficial to Roosenberg in its entirety, but also determined that the terms of the second arbitration improved his position to some extent. Nevertheless, it held that there were several potential explanations for his failure to achieve all of the outcomes he sought, and therefore, legally, he could not prove that his mixed outcome was a result of negligence by his original attorney.