Monthly Archives: August 2014

Eric Bland Featured in the Washington Post Hospice Article

The Washington Post article published August 21, 2014 is a part of an ongoing Washington Post series on the hospice industry in America. The hospice industry in the US is booming and according to experts one reason is that hospice care can offer terminally ill patients a better way to live out their dying days.  However, concerns still rise about the treatments for patients are aren’t near death and if lethal doses of medicine are being used to quicken death for these patients.

Currently Bland Richter is involved in representing famed college football coach Jim Carlen who died days after entering a hospice center in South Carolina. Read Eric Bland’s comments and the rest of the Washington Post article here. 

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The late Jim Carlen

 

McNair Law Firm Sued for Legal Malpractice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 21, 2014

McNair Law Firm Sued for Legal Malpractice

McNair Law Firm, the third largest law firm in South Carolina with more than 100 attorneys in nine offices, and one of its attorney’s shareholders are being sued for legal malpractice.

Charleston, SC – Bland Richter attorneys, Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, filed a legal malpractice suit in Richland County, South Carolina on July 14, 2014 against McNair Law Firm, the third largest law firm in South Carolina with more than 100 attorneys in nine offices, and Bob Deeb, a real estate lawyer at the firm’s Hilton Head office. The suit alleges that Deeb conspired with a land developer and business associate to deprive five elderly black sisters of land that had been in their family since the 1920s.

The property owned by the White Sisters was valued at over $6 million in 2009 when the suit alleges that attorney Deeb and his business partner and associate, Ed Flynn, Hilton Head developer, misled the sisters into signing over their land, despite conflicts of interest and the failing real estate market. According to the suit, Deeb never informed the sisters that he had represented Flynn and that he had both a personal and financial stake in Flynn’s business.  Instead, Deeb continuously encouraged the sisters to continue their negotiations with Flynn for the purpose of forming a joint venture to develop the family land.

In 2009, Deeb advised the sisters to transfer their land into an entity called “WSI II” and allowed this entity to comingle the property into other ventures of Flynn. Essentially WSI II became a one-third minority partner in entities owned or controlled by Flynn,. The sisters were promised $300,000 each and a home that was worth no less than $600,000. According to the suit, none of them received either. Deeb continued to represent the sisters until April 2013, when another attorney discovered the relationship between Deeb and Flynn.

“The conflicts of interest in the case are profound and troubling,” says Bland Richter partner Ronnie Richter.

About Bland Richter
Bland Richter’s practice areas include a concentration in legal and professional malpractice. Partners, Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, have a combined 45 years of legal experience. In addition, Bland Richter prosecutes medical malpractice, complex commercial, transactional and business disputes. With offices in both Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina, the firm serves the entire State of South Carolina and beyond. In addition to its members being admitted to practice law in South Carolina, Eric Bland is also a member of the Pennsylvania and Florida bars. Bland Richter is available for association anywhere in the Country where its services may be necessary. To learn more about Bland Richter visit www.blandrichter.com

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Just Who’s Running This Ship Anyway …. Supervising Non-Lawyer Subordinates

As an attorney, you are responsible for the conduct of any non-lawyer subordinates working in your office. In fact, Rule 5.3 requires the supervisory attorney to make reasonable efforts to “ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer.” Consider the breadth and implications of this Rule. Without intending any disrespect to the legal secretaries and paralegals without whose help most offices would grind to a halt, secretaries and paralegals are not lawyers. If you are in a high volume practice that relies heavily on non-lawyer assistants, are you taking reasonable efforts to ensure that your non-lawyer assistants are interacting with your clients and others who come into contact with your office in a manner that is consistent with your obligations as a lawyer? Are you really? In pondering the possibilities, keep in mind your duties as a lawyer to:

  1. Provide competent representation (Rule 1.1)
  2. Provide diligent representation (Rule 1.3)
  3. Communicate effectively with the client so as to allow the client to make informed and intelligent decisions regarding the representation (Rule 1.4)
  4. Maintain confidentiality (Rule 1.6)
  5. Be truthful in communications with others (Rule 4.2)

Clients who morph from physical beings into file folders and case lists are nothing more than gestating malpractice cases in your practice. In the matters we review for malpractice, there are a couple of elements that we see in common.   Perhaps the greatest commonality in legal malpractice claims is the absence of communications from the attorney to the client.

One of our most exaggerated cases involved a supposed attorney-client relationship on a single case that spanned more than a ten years. Although the mere span of time alone is incredible, perhaps even more shocking was the complete absence of communications between the lawyer and the client – for over a decade. Instead of having a real attorney-client relationship, the client’s matter had been entrusted to a paralegal, who apparently misled both attorney and client as to the status of the matter. What began as probably an “innocent” white lie by a paralegal to a client regarding the status of the claim, turned into a cascading series of lies and deception that culminated with the fabrication of court and settlement documents (including even a settlement check). While the attorney was undoubtedly a victim of deceit by his own staff, in the end there was simply no defense for not having touched his client or his file for 10 years.

Practice Pointer: All preaching aside, if you do not have real attorney-client relationships with your clients, you should expect to be on the receiving end of a malpractice claim. Even the most experienced paralegals are not lawyers, and it is unfair to both the clients and the staff to expect your non-lawyer subordinates to operate your law practice. Touch your files frequently. Touch your clients more frequently. If your “client base” is a “case list”, the ice is thin beneath you.

THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO ONE OF OUR CLIENTS THAT DUE TO A SETTLEMENT WITH CONFIDENTIAL RESTRICTIONS MUST GO UNNAMED. WE WILL CALL HIM MR. DESERVING CLIENT BECAUSE HE WAS. HE IS A GREAT MAN AND A GOOD FATHER. WE WERE HONORED TO REPRESENT HIM AS A CLIENT AND A MAN – NOT AS A FILE FOLDER.

Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter