Client Pleading Guilty Can Still Sue The Lawyer Who Led Him to Crime
Winstock "does have to raise the vigilance of a lawyer," says Wasserman, of counsel at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon in Teaneck, and general counsel of LegalMalpractice.com, which offers expert testimony and other consulting services.
"The lawyer has to be able to stand up and say, 'no, you can't do it, and I won't be a part of it,'" Wasserman says.
Winstock stands for law that the Legislature would be very unlikely to attempt to change, in light of the judiciary's constitutional authority over lawyer conduct, he says.
Plaintiffs in similar situations could run into difficulty if malpractice carriers, arguing that a lawyer's conduct is intentional or criminal, attempt to invoke a coverage disclaimer, Wasserman says. "I think the insurers will have a good argument there."
Robert Hille of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Morristown, who represented Galasso and had defended other professional liability actions, says Winstock "shifts responsibility, really, to the lawyer for activities the clients engage in."
"They're going to be sued every time," possibly prompting more weak cases to be settled, he says.
Hille adds that the exposure could apply to client violations of regulatory or other types of law, not just criminal.
Winstock and Galasso settled on undisclosed terms last month, and the court was advised of the resolution, Hille says. It's unclear whether that contributed to its denial of the certification petition.
Winstock's lawyer, Gabriel Halpern of PinilisHalpern in Morristown, did not return a call Friday but previously told the Law Journal that Winstock relied on Galasso's advice and didn't believe he was breaking the law when he set up the poker club. •