liability for attorney actions?

f I hire an attorney and he takes a course of action that is improper, can I be sued for his actions. This case is in Texas.

Thanks for responses.

4 hours ago - 4 days left to answer.

Additional Details

OK more details. An attorney (in Texas) has been hired to sue someone. Rather than file suit immediately as his client requests, he decides a better course of action is to send letters to third parties (involved in the business venture with the target of the suit) in order to put pressure on the target of the suit.

The target of the suit then gets his own attorney and claims the letters constitute libel.

Now, is the client responsible for those letters. I would deeply appreciate some case or statute citation. I have already been told by several people that no the client is not liable, but I need something to cite.

As a side note, unknown to the client, the attorney was suspended from practicing law when he wrote the leters in question.

Given that this is a real matter, that is about all the details I can give in a public forum. I asked a similar question earlier, but no one provided any statute or case law (again this is a texas case)

Update:

Thanks chris, but you gave me things that show the ATTORNEY is not liable. I am asking for citations that show the CLIENT is not liable for attorney actions. Bradt v West is not that.

1 Answer

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Edit: read more closely, I guess. Bradt is the definitive Texas case that says clients are NOT liable for the actions of their attorneys, unless you're complicit in some other crime. "party in a civil suit" is the same thing as "client".

    Basically, they're blowing smoke out of their ***. First of all, you can't be liable for the actions of your attorney for just having trusted them to be your lawyer. You're also not liable for libel unless the letters were publish and have caused actual harm to the accuser. Also, someone who practices law without a license is subject to discipline. Basically, you're fine. Cites below.

    For purposes of sanction, party in civil suit cannot be liable for intentional wrongful conduct of his attorney unless client is implicated in some way other than merely having entrusted his legal representation to attorney.

    Bradt v. West 892 S.W.2d 56 (Tex.App.-Houston [1 Dist.],1994)

    Libel is statutorily defined in Texas. It is

    a defamation expressed in written or other graphic form that tends to blacken the memory of the dead or that tends to injure a living person's reputation and thereby expose the person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or financial injury or to impeach any person's honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or to publish the natural defects of anyone and thereby expose the person to public hatred, ridicule, or financial injury.

    Roberts v. Davis 2007 WL 3194813, 2 (Tex.App.-Texarkana) (Tex.App.-Texarkana,2007)

    (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person may not practice law in this state unless the person is a member of the state bar.

    (b) The supreme court may promulgate rules prescribing the procedure for limited practice of law by:

    (1) attorneys licensed in another jurisdiction;

    (2) bona fide law students; and

    (3) unlicensed graduate students who are attending or have attended a law school approved by the supreme court.

    V.T.C.A., Government Code § 81.102

    Texas courts have long held that attorneys cannot be held civilly liable for damages to non-clients, under any theory of recovery, for actions taken in connection with representing a client.

    Reagan Nat. Advertising of Austin, Inc. v. Hazen 2008 WL 2938823, 2 (Tex.App.-Austin) (Tex.App.-Austin,2008)

    An attorney's protection from liability is not boundless. An attorney can be held liable by a third-party for actions that are not part of the discharge of his duties to his client

    Dixon Financial Services, Ltd. v. Greenberg, Peden, Siegmyer & Oshman, P.C. L 746548, 7 -8 (Tex.App.-Hous. (Tex.App.-Houston [1 Dist.],2008)

    If an attorney makes a decision which a reasonably prudent attorney could make in the same or similar circumstance, it is not an act of negligence even if the result is undesirable. Attorneys cannot be held strictly liable for all of their clients' unfulfilled expectations. An attorney who makes a reasonable decision in the handling of a case may not be held liable if the decision later proves to be imperfect. The standard is an objective exercise of professional judgment, not the subjective belief that his acts are in good faith.

    Mora v. Villalobos 2005 WL 2000759, 2 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi) (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi,2005)

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