A New Jersey appellate court has found that aggravated circumstances permit the recovery of emotional distress damages in a legal malpractice case for breach of fiduciary duty. The court allowed counsel fees as proximately caused damages to the non-client plaintiff father.
The defendant lawyer turned over a child’s passport to the mother in violation of a parenting agreement between mother and father. The child has been separated from her father for ten years, living in Spain with her maternal grandparents who echo the mother’s unsubstantiated accusations of child abuse. The mother is serving a fourteen year sentence for child abduction. A jury awarded the father nearly $1 million in emotional distress damages. The Appellate Division upheld the award to the father but overturned the award to the child due to lack of evidence.
Disclosure: I testified for plaintiffs on breach of fiduciary duty. – gwc