Attorneys may sued for committing fraud and deceit on their own clients. Fraud occurs when an attorney makes a material misrepresentation of fact which he knows is false, with the intent that the client will rely upon it or act upon it in some way, and then the client actually does, in fact, rely upon it, or act upon it, and is damaged as a result. Fraud may also occur when the attorney makes a material omission of fact – that is, conceals something that should have been disclosed – and the client relies to his detriment on the absence of the information.
The American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct contain a general policy against dishonest conduct, declaring that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” In fact, ABA Rule 8.4(c) applies not only to dishonest conduct occurring in the course of representing a client but to dishonest conduct in a lawyer’s private life.
A lawyer cannot knowingly submit false evidence, such as deceptive or fraudulent documents in a court of law. See ABA Model Rule 3.3(a)(3). Every state has procedural rules that permit the court to vacate judgments that were obtained fraudulently. Similarly, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d)(3) gives the federal courts the authority to set aside judgments that were obtained based on “fraud on the court.”
Legal Malpractice based on Fraud may occur in many different ways, including:
- Fraudulent credentials by the attorney to induce you to hire him or her.
- Fraudulent promises that were never fulfilled
- Fraudulent assurances that work was being performed (when it was not)
- Fraudulent concealment of records or letters provided by the opposing side
- Fraudulent concealment of court orders or other court papers
- Fraudulent failure-to-disclose court conferences and hearings
- Fraudulent failure to reveal major milestones in the case
- Misrepresentation about settlement offer to induce client to take higher or lower figure
- Misrepresentation about the law
- Misrepresentation about expenses, court costs, or fees
- Diversion or misappropriation of settlement funds or paid judgment, accompanied by fraudulent explanation for why client has not received full payment of rightful share of funds.
When a fraudulent misrepresentation leads to damages suffered by a client, the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick is prepared to fight for the client’s rights. Please feel free to contact us for a free, thorough analysis of your case at 1-866-337-2900.