Home/Table of Contents Insurance Defense Note: insurance defense cases are considered separately under "Insurance Defense." To go there, click here.
Whether one calls the representation "joint" or "multiple," when a lawyer or law firm represents more the one person or entity, a number of things can go wrong.
Law Firm did estate planning for W and H, but evidently separately and at different times. It claimed that Faegre knew things about Consortium that it should have disclosed to Star Centers.
When Consortium announced that it was backing out of the loan, Star Centers asked Faegre to sue Consortium. Eventually Star Centers sued Faegre for breach of fiduciary duty and malpractice.
The dissenting judge said that Naomi might be able to plead breach of fiduciary duty in connection with Bowen's failure to disclose his conflict of interest.
His opinion was much longer than the majority's and contained the analysis one would have expected from the majority. 95-4(1997) addressed the classic mistress situation. The opinion said that when the husband calls the lawyer (who is also doing the wife's estate plan) to prepare a codicil for his mistress, the lawyer's duty is not to tell the wife, but decline to proceed on behalf of either.
The privilege rules in joint representations have been fairly well understood.
If litigation erupts between the joint clients, the privilege will not apply as to information shared between them and with their lawyer. 327 (March 2005), deals with the issue of confidences in joint representation.
Faegre had disclosed that it represented Consortium on several small unrelated matters, and obtained waivers from both parties to represent Star Centers in the loan transaction.
At one point Reah's will and trust provided that Naomi would get income for her life. Second, the court held that under the circumstances W was not "in privity" with Law Firm with respect to its planning H's estate.
Bowen did estate planning and other legal work at various times for Naomi Chase and her mother, Reah Chase. First, the court held that W did not have a cause of action as a beneficiary.
In this opinion the court affirmed the trial court's order dismissing the complaint.
After H's demise, in this action, W sued Law Firm for malpractice relating to its handling of H's estate plan. The trial court, the appellate court, and the Minnesota Supreme Court held that what Faegre knew about Consortium was not relevant to Star Centers and that failure to make disclosures to Star Centers caused it no damage.