Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Closer Call Than It Should Be

Adam at Universal Hub already has a short post up about the Appeals Court's decision in Kennedy v. Beth Israel Deaconess Med. Ctr., Inc., No. 06-P-1918. It's worth digging into the facts a bit more, since this is one of those rare Appeals Court cases where a justice takes the time and effort to draft a dissent.

The Court flipped a trial judge's decision to reopen a case after it had been dismissed. Why was it dismissed? Because the plaintiff's lawyer, H. Paul Carroll, couldn't manage to properly deliver a copy of the complaint to the defendant after receiving six emergency time extensions to do so.

That's right: six!

Let's run down counsel's reasons for these six extension.
  • The First One: he needed to talk to an expert and he put down the wrong deadline on his calendar.
  • The Second One: he still needed to talk to that expert and he'd been assaulted (the lawyer, not the expert).
  • The Third One: he needed to talk to the expert some more and was in discussions with the hospital to get the complaint delivered informally.
  • The Fourth One: the sheriff who was supposed to deliver the complaint couldn't guarantee delivery by a certain date.
  • The Fifth One: recent inclement weather.
  • The Sixth One: he needed to draft a new complaint that more fully set out the complicated medical issues.

By sheer coincidence, there's a lawyer in Newburyport who goes by the name H. Paul Carroll (same guy? maybe?). His website touts his ability to provide timely solutions to his clients, which is a little bit bizarre. There also seems to be a lawyer named H. Paul Carroll (same guy? maybe?) who was suspended by the New Hampshire Bar for failing to pay a special fee after, you guessed it, he didn't file some administrative paperwork on time.

From a strict legal perspective, this is actually a pretty tough case. That's why there's a dissent. This might just be one of those cases, though, were a mechanical interpretation of the law produces a result that wouldn't inspire a whole lot of public confidence in the profession.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Read the oath an attorney swears to under 221, 38 and then know that all complaints made to teh Bar Board are SECRET and if you divluge the complaint, you can be held civilly liable!

Being held liable for making a public complaint about an attorney.

No wonder why 221, 40 the right to petition a court for the removal of an attorney, has been overruled by SJC Rule 4:01.

No public complaints against an attorney in Mass.