professional liability

Professional & Fiduciary Litigation

Conrad O’Brien attorneys understand the unique needs of professionals and can help you mitigate the risks inherent in running a professional practice or using your professional skills. Our attorneys treat each case and allegation with the same sense of urgency and gravity that is felt by the client, responding quickly and tackling challenges tenaciously. Time and again, highly regarded professionals and organizations have relied on our team’s speed and savvy to protect their reputations.

 

While deliberately keeping a low profile in the media, Conrad O’Brien has established itself as the insider’s law firm—the lawyers to call when your Fortune 500 company, AmLaw 100 law firm, or high-level executives are facing critical litigation. Our string of victories, particularly in legal malpractice cases, has confirmed our reputation as a law firm’s law firm. 

 

We provide preeminent outside litigation services to the world-renowned Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as Jefferson Health/Main Line Health, and serve as the trusted partner of fiduciaries, brokers and dealers, insurers, accountants, physicians, and other licensed professionals. 

 

We have decades of experience successfully handling malpractice, errors and omissions, professional negligence, defamation, and breach of contract claims. We have successfully defended clients in court.  We have also managed and stopped cases before they even start by working with clients and their adversaries in a variety of alternative dispute resolution settings to successfully resolve claims and allegations quietly and cost-effectively.

Lawyers & Law Firms

Conrad O’Brien is the law firm that global law firms choose to protect the reputations of their attorneys.

 

Notable Cases

 

  • Obtained a unanimous jury verdict in favor of an AmLaw 100 law firm on a claim by a former client seeking more than $20 million in damages for alleged erroneous legal advice on international trade issues.       
  • Obtained complete dismissal of claims of conspiracy and fraud against a Baltimore-based national law firm.
  • Obtained a full defense arbitration verdict in a professional liability case against a Philadelphia attorney who allegedly failed to raise the proper facts and legal arguments to avoid a statute of limitations defense.
  • Successfully defended an AmLaw 200 firm in a Dragonetti action. The case was settled after obtaining pre-trial rulings that substantially limited the scope of the plaintiff’s case and precluded the plaintiff from using key evidence.
  • Represented an AmLaw 100 firm in a high-profile professional liability case brought by one of the largest automotive dealers in the country in which plaintiffs sought over $50 million in damages, and successfully shepherded the case into a favorable settlement. 
  • Obtained a complete defense verdict for one of the largest law firms in Philadelphia sued by a client with respect to its handling of settlement negotiations. The plaintiff sought a seven-figure damages award, but Conrad O’Brien’s attorneys mounted an aggressive defense that refocused the attention of the case where it properly belonged: on the informed decisions of the plaintiff himself. By the end of trial, a jury agreed that the plaintiff’s claim lacked merit. 
  • Won dismissal on summary judgment for local lawyers in an action filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas alleging that they negligently permitted a default judgment to be entered against their client. 
  • Achieved dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim against a regional law firm in a case alleging abuse of process, thereby ending the case at the very beginning.   
  • Represented a personal injury attorney sued by clients in a putative federal class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The attorney and his co-defendants were alleged in the multiple-count complaint to have breached fiduciary duties owed to their clients, asbestos personal injury claimants, by failing to disclose settlement terms that allegedly benefitted certain clients over others. Our attorneys initially defeated class certification and successfully moved for summary judgment on all claims; however, the Third Circuit remanded the case on the narrow issue of whether the breach of fiduciary claims were viable under Texas state law. After further motions to dismiss were granted and an appeal taken, the case was remanded for a second time. Plaintiffs again moved for class certification, resulting in the denial of class certification for the second time in the case. The Third Circuit denied plaintiffs’ petition for leave to appeal the class certification denial.
  • Represented a law firm in a malpractice action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The claims were complex and multifaceted: They concerned the firm’s negotiation of a security agreement and subordination agreement for the plaintiff; the firm’s representation of the plaintiff as a creditor in subsequent bankruptcy proceedings; and discussions between the firm and the plaintiff regarding the release of malpractice claims. We moved the case into a posture where it could be mediated, and then represented the client in a mediation that resolved all of the claims.
  • Represented a major law firm and one of its patent attorneys sued over a missed deadline for a foreign patent application. The plaintiff’s claims started out at over $10 million and were based largely on the theory that the lost patent application reduced the royalty potential for the new product. Conrad O’Brien challenged the damages potential of the case on two fronts. First, we presented a legal challenge to the standing of the plaintiff to sue with respect to the largest portion of the claim. Second, we lined up a team of experts—which included a foreign patent law expert, a product market expert, and an intellectual property valuation expert—all of whom worked together to demonstrate that it was very unlikely that the royalty stream would be diminished at all. The approach worked, and the matter was settled for a portion of the original demand.
  • Represented an AmLaw 100 law firm in a highly-publicized lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania by a former client seeking, inter alia, to enjoin the law firm’s representation of a current client in a possible acquisition of the former client. Conrad O’Brien’s attorneys obtained a stay in the Pennsylvania court. Our client successfully defeated the former client’s attempt to disqualify it from the representation in the Delaware Chancery Court. 

Partnership Disputes

Our attorneys have substantial experience working with lawyers and law firms to address internal partnership disputes, including partner separations, firm breakups, and partner compensation. Our attorneys are well-versed in the myriad ethical and professional issues that arise when lawyers part ways. While we strive to work with clients to keep such disputes internal, we have a proven record of success when litigation is required and have successfully litigated cases for notable law firms concerning breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, as well as complex partnership valuation and compensation issues. 

Physicians and Hospitals

Our attorneys have established strong relationships with highly credentialed and skilled experts in various medical specialties who help us develop effective defenses and make clear, compelling trial presentations. We are also adept at assisting our clients in managing and coordinating the disparate resources that are available for their defense, such as client reserves, insurance carriers, and governmental payors.

 

Notable Cases

 

  • Obtained a directed verdict on behalf of a defendant physician in a case involving catastrophic brain injury from alleged obstetrical malpractice.
  • Obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a physician and hospital sued in a case alleging the wrongful death of a child who underwent a tonsil and adenoidectomy. 
  • Tried a case to a defense verdict on behalf of a hospital sued by a pregnant woman alleging exposure to HIV and German measles in a hospital setting.
  • Tried a case to a defense verdict on behalf of a world-renowned urologist sued in a case for alleged medical malpractice in the treatment of intestinal disease.
  • Obtained complete dismissal of suit against three Philadelphia pharmacies alleging claims of intentional and negligent tortious conduct.  
  • Obtained numerous favorable resolutions of disputed pre-litigation claims for physicians and hospitals through private negotiation and use of a variety of alternative dispute modalities.

Fiduciary Litigation

Conrad O’Brien attorneys represent individual and institutional clients who serve others in a fiduciary capacity, including executors or executrices of an estate, trustees of a trust, or administrators of an ERISA plan. We have obtained success for our clients in a variety of matters, including suits alleging breach of fiduciary duty or asserting claims for the payment of benefits or monies under the terms of a particular instrument or plan. 

 

Notable Cases

 

  • Represented the former executors of an estate worth in excess of $60 million in one of the largest estate litigations in the history of Pennsylvania. The case involved challenges to various real estate and stock transactions occurring during the eight-year administration of the estate, which consists primarily of a multi-state commercial real estate empire. The litigation occurred over 11 years and included various hearings on ancillary matters and over 70 depositions. After a non-jury trial, the Orphans’ Court issued an adjudication finding in favor of the former co-executors on the vast majority of the objections (claims) lodged against them. The case is also related to several other matters pending in various other courts, including a commercial dispute in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Commerce Program (in which the former executors achieved partial summary judgment on the core dispute in the case); a federal RICO action instituted by Conrad O’Brien’s clients against several defendants; and a quiet title action in Delaware Chancery Court.
  • Represented a co-trustee in a surcharge action alleging mismanagement of investment assets and seeking in excess of $13 million and punitive damages. After 16 days of trial, the Orphans’ Court denied any surcharge and refused any award of punitive damages.  
  • Represented an executor and trustee in a surcharge action alleging mismanagement of the testator’s law firm and unreasonable executor/trustee fees. Following nine days of trial, the Orphans Court approved the accounting and the executor/trustee fee. The result was not appealed. 
  • Convinced the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to grant allocator and ultimately find that claims for breach of an oral contract for enhanced pension rights were preempted by ERISA, reversing earlier decisions in the case by the trial court and Pennsylvania Superior Court.
  • Advised general partners of investment partnerships on litigation and fiduciary risks and disputes with limited partners.
  • Represented executors in a will contest challenging the mental capacity of the testator and charging the executors with exerting undue influence. After a 12-day trial before the Orphans Court, Conrad O’Brien secured a judgment in favor of the executors, and obtained an affirmance of the judgment on appeal. 
  • Represented a plan administrator in a claim for plan benefits under ERISA, and obtained a favorable settlement at an early stage of the proceedings.