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Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 6512
Experience:  Legal Expert
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Legal Malpractice. 120 days after I was told the complaint

Customer Question

Legal Malpractice.

120 days after I was told the complaint was ready to be filed, I ended up having to reply to a complaint issued by the other party .. My attorney had another 20 days to answer their complaint .. Has ignored all requests to meet and has made his ability to speak just about impossible.

Last night finally at 1 am I was told that the answer would not include the counterclaim and cross claim ... this is 140 days since he first supposedly had the complaint issued

I have two days now to find another attorney or allow him to file the answer without the counterclaim or cross claim .. He says he will file these days after the answer ... If I'm reading DC law correctly you can't do this or your counterclaims are restricted.

He speaks below of an amended answer ... this seems to be nonsense also ... can you clarify ... the answer then having the counterclaim and crosss claim as an amended response .. is that possible

I have tried to provide helpful responses to several points you raised below:

I would like to ideally include a counter claim and the third party claims against the other folks with the Verified Answer that you need to have filed on or before Thursday. We can if necessary just file the Verified Answer, and add the other claims later by way of an Amended Answer.

There is no increase in burden because you enter the case as a defendant rather than a defendant. It just does not matter on a practical basis.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 1 year ago.

TMcJD :

Hi, I will be happy to assist you, and it is my goal to make you a very satisfied customer! This may take a few minutes, so thanks for your patience.

TMcJD :
Rule 15. Amended and Supplemental

Pleadings (a) Amendments.

A party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar, the party may so amend it at any time within 20 days after it is served.
Customer:

hey how are you

TMcJD :

The quoted rule does allow amendment of an answer. No responsive pleading is required to an answer, so it can be amended without leave of court within 20 days from service of the answer.

TMcJD :

Such an amendment can be made to add compulsory counterclaims and third party complaints.

Customer:

within 20 days though

Customer:

\weve not answered at all

Customer:

at this point with two days left

TMcJD :

Thus, procedurally, what your attorney has stated is allowed (if done within 20 days of the answer being served).

TMcJD :

No, you have 2 days left to answer. Once you serve your answer, you have 20 days to file an amended answer without leave of court.

Customer:

ok so for example we file an answer on the 5th day .. we can amend that up to the 20th day

TMcJD :

If it is not filed within 20 days after serving your answer, you can still file an amended answer but will have to request special permission from the court, which the court will generally allow without an issue.

TMcJD :

Yes

TMcJD :

Well, actually the 25th day (within 20 days from serving the answer)

Customer:

well i dont trust lawyer at all .. it's been over 120 days to get this in place ..

Customer:

so he has 5 additional days to amend the answer

TMcJD :

Sure. I would start looking for someone else if I were you, but you need to get an answer on file asap so you don't default.

TMcJD :

No, he has 20 days to amend the answer

TMcJD :

You said you would file on the 5th day. That would mean you could amend through the 25th day of the month

Customer:

ok so if he files tomorrow the 19th day ... he'd have to day 39

Customer:

the difficult issue in all of this is i cant file a complaint ..if i do he can drop me .. so i need to let him file and cross my fingers

TMcJD :

Yes. Forget about when your answer is due. That is irrelevant other than to make sure you get it filed on time. Once it's filed though, you have 20 days to amend without getting an order from the court.

TMcJD :

You can get your answer on file, find another attorney, terminate the current attorney and then file your complaint.

Customer:

ok so it buys me 20 days

TMcJD :

Yes

Customer:

ok i have a few additional questions .. ill tip you very well i cant believe i got someone in this format of chat

TMcJD :

Okay

Customer:

just some background this has been going on for almost 135 days

Customer:

he's told me the complaint was to be ready 7 times and then missed the deadline eventually i became the defendent

Customer:

i know that sounds nuts on his side and my side for staying with him .. he's with akin gump which is a good firm so I thought he would step iup

Customer:

in december he instructed me to do multiple things in preparation for the lawsuit he was to bring, he then told me the complaint was ready or near ready that same month

Customer:

after failing to provide the complaint ... i didnt allow him to move into an apt that i own in DC ... yes you heard that correctly

Customer:

2 weeks later i get this weird email saying that i shouldnt consider him my legal counsel until a contract is in place ... this is after 3 months of working with him

Customer:

a client/lawyer relationship was certainly established im thinking ... offering me the complaint, telling me not to do things based on the complaint to be filed

Customer:

is that pretty obvious, even though he wants to erase that history ..?

TMcJD :

Even if you hadn't signed a contract, it seems clear based on facts you noted that an attorney-client relationship was present. As such, he had a duty to get the work done within a reasonable time. It also seems clear that he breached that duty by not doing it within a reasonable time. A reasonable time for an initial complaint wouldn't be more than 1 month in most cases. His just being busy is no excuse.

TMcJD :

It's certainly something over which you could file a bar complaint.

Customer:

well after he makes his i shouldn't consider him as my representtation he tells me i need to sign a contract with his father because he has a conflict of interest .... the contract and complaint go hand and hand except i never got the complaint as promised

TMcJD :

IF he has a conflict, he shouldn't be representing you. You could also allege in the bar complaint that he represented you with a conflict.

Customer:

this was in february .... then the next months include no contact at all with the father and him telling me in writing the complaint was ready or almost ready as additional actions were taken against me ...the transfer to the father is that valid especiall now that its june and ive never spoken to him

Customer:

he wanted out of the case because he's lazy .. he's been distancing himself for 5 months now ... as I continued to think he'd step up

Customer:

then after I became aware the plantiff was likely to file a complaint three weeks went by... he once again promiosed the complaint .... never happened and i was served by them

Customer:

that was about 18 days ago .. since then he's cancelled 3 appts to meet in person, has spent ten minutes on the phone with me .. the whold time me asking for clarification

Customer:

i finally sent a formal letter yesterday with my expectations ... and what i was under the impression how he was moving forward .......because he would't answer questions in regard to the counter claim or cross claim ...

Customer:

last night at 1 am he calls and im told that the basis of the case was X when it use to be Y and that the counterclaim and cross claim may not be filed with the answer

Customer:

I forgot to add when I got the generic response his fathers name was listed as my counsel

Customer:

i feel like if I sigh that document that my real attorney has the ability to say screw him .... my dads his attorney erasing almost 9 months of BS

Customer:

should i sign that response with the fathers name?

TMcJD :

All very suspicious behavior and adds to the reason you should file a bar complaint.

TMcJD :

You can sign a contract with the firm but you're free to terminate the contract at any time. The firm would only be able to collect fees for reasonable services performed.

Customer:

the bar complaint gives him an out immediately thus im dealing with malpractive and my current issue at once .. i guess your saying the complaint comes after he gets me another 20 days by filing the initial answer

TMcJD :

Yes

TMcJD :

You don't want to file any complaint until you have an answer on file and have some time to secure new counsel

Customer:

just a daunting task he'd taken this under contingency and finding someone else to do so may be impossible

Customer:

i got the answer from him its kind of a joke .. its a HOA case .... very involved.. almost ridiculous .. but 3 weeks ago he had no idea why they filed a breach of contract complaint ... how can he not understand that?

Customer:

so your sure in dc an amended answer can be provided 20 days after the initial answer just confirming

TMcJD :

He may not fully understand the law on the matter. It will be best to get an answer, any answer, on file and have new counsel review the case with you to file an amended answer, counterclaims, and third party complaint within 20 days.

TMcJD :

Yes, I provided you with the rule allowing amendment of pleadings. An answer is a pleading.

Customer:

great ... one last thing i have issue with the answer having his fathers name on it ... in regard to malpractice doesn't that almost realize his son of his responsibility

TMcJD :

It doesn't matter whose name is XXXXX XXXXX contract. If you can show he did the work and committed malpractice, then that's it. There doesn't have to be a signed document.

Customer:

ok .. his behavior is just so bizarre if your going to lie dont you do it verball and not in writing :)

Customer:

malpractice cases im told are very expensive and last forever ... is that your take

TMcJD :

Yes, malpractice cases are usually not worth the effort, which is why I only mentioned filing a bar complaint.

Customer:

well the damage associated with his behavior is pretty severe .. i could lose my home due to him letting things drag for nine months and the HOA took additional actions as he sat on his hands ...

Customer:

i guess the worse the damage that occurs makes a malpractice case much more feasible .. it sounds ridiculous but it seems the lawyer can do whatever they want with no repurcussions

TMcJD :

Of course is damages are severe, then it might be worth pursuing. It would certainly be something to discuss with a malpractice attorney.

Customer:

his damages report came to around 500k he put in a recent document to convince me how much work hes down ..he'd spent 150K of his time on the case

Customer:

which is ridiculous but would his own reports be something a malpractive attorney could tie to the case he brought against my current attorney ... there aren't many malpractice attorneys i realize i need to have a case that would see $$$ is that correct?

Customer:

im assuming i have to sign the answer is that correct ... at least i would see him at that point or is my signature not required im assuming it is but just checking .... im done promise

TMcJD :

If it's a verified answer, you'll sign it.

TMcJD :

As for the malpractice issues -- the damages would be to you, which makes the amount of time he's spent irrelevant. It's only whether he failed to do something or did something inappropriately that caused you significant damage. If the fee he tries to charge is unreasonable, he would not be allowed to collect it. Any costs you incur fighting an unreasonable fee might be compensable as part of the malpractice action, but that only makes what he attempts to charge secondary, not primary to your claims of malpractice. His failure to timely complete tasks is really the meat of it.

Customer:

its verified ....

TMcJD :

Then you will sign it.

Customer:

he wasted 180 days lying about filing the complaint resulting in ,multiple actions against me .. im not joking 8 times he offered up the complaint each time he was lying to buy more time ...thank you for your help ..... im just worried about signing that answer because if i do ... and then he does nothing in regard to the amended answer my only option is malpractice

Customer:

to afford and find another attorney in twenty days may be impossible .. ive considered settling with the plaintiff actually

TMcJD :

Yes, I'm sorry about the situation you're in. It should never have happened. Please let me know if I can provide any assistance in the future. Have a great day!

Customer:

if i sign the answer based on him signing something in regard to the amended return is that viable .. it would force him to write the counterclaim and cross claims .. something after 120 days he still is the best person to write such things without recreating the wheel .. that seems like a compromise that provides me cover as well as him

TMcJD :

Maybe. You can certainly ask him to provide written assurance he'll get it done within the allotted time.

Customer:

ok well it seems like the only answer for me ... i wont go through another 20 days of his bs especially with his father officially on record as my attorney

Customer:

thank you for your help ...in appreciate it

TMcJD :

Yes, neither would I. Your welcome. Again, let me know if I can help in the future. Thanks.

TMcJD :

I would appreciate it if you could leave the positive rating and bonus at this time (as you noted you would do). Thanks!

Thomas McJD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 6512
Experience: Legal Expert
Thomas McJD and 10 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 1 year ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

What happens now?

If you haven’t already done so, please rate your answer above. Or, you can reply to me using the box below.
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 1 year ago.

I would appreciate it if you could provide the positive rating and bonus you noted you would leave. Thanks!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Well lawyer filed a motion 2 hours before answer was due based on the Condominium suing me and not the condominium association ... there were a few other sloppy errors in their complaint making it difficult ( not really, technicalities) ti understand were the counterclaims against the condominium or the condominium association, as well as they used BOD's ... which we can't have .. we have a president ... blah blah ... so the motion will be granted he said .... either the plaintiff will have to refile ..( Most likely) or case thrown out ( not likely ) .. if the motion is granted ... other attorney contacted on Thursday never got back to my attorney ... so sent to Judge per DC Code) if they refile Wednesday, do they need to serve me again, if they do or do not, does the 20 days to answer start back over for my attorney ... I'm thinking yes .. which is what he wants because he hasnt done the work as he should.

Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 1 year ago.
If The Complaint Is Dismissed And They Have To Refile, Then They WIll Have To Serve You Again. Once You Are Served, TheN You Would Have 20 Days To Answer.

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