Jury Finds Law Firm Liable for Malpractice

A MANHATTAN jury returned a $450,000 malpractice verdict against a law firm on Tuesday for its failure to advise a client during a medical malpractice trial of her right to obtain a new expert witness to replace one who had been disqualified.

The award to Frances McGuire Maher, 46, stemmed from her 1981 Brooklyn trial for medical malpractice involving the wrong prescription administered to her at Methodist Hospital following an automobile accident. The drug, which caused cell deterioration in her bone joints, required her to have a left hip replacement.

At trial, where she was represented by Julien & Schlesinger, a crucial expert witness was disqualified after her attorney failed to exchange his medical report with the defense. The plaintiff claimed she then had to settle the case for $125,000.

In the legal malpractice trial against Julien & Schlesinger, the jury found the firm had departed from accepted legal practice in failing to advise the plaintiff of her right to have a substitute expert witness. The plaintiff was represented by Michael Mantell and Michael Haskel of Mantell & Haskel; the law firm by David Jaroslawicz of Jaroslawicz & Jaros. Supreme Court Justice Myriam Altman presided over the trial.