Ted Schaer and Noah Shapiro, Win Preliminary Objections To Venue in Philadelphia County
August 26, 2010
Ted Schaer, Esq., the co-department head of Zarwin, Baum’s Casualty Defense Practice Group and Zarwin Associate, Noah Shapiro, recently won Preliminary Objections to venue in Philadelphia County in a legal malpractice lawsuit resulting in the case being transferred to Montgomery County, a much more conservative venue. Plaintiff sued the individual attorney alleged to have committed the malpractice as well as the law firm he was working for at the time. Plaintiff alleged venue was proper in Philadelphia County pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1006 and 2179 because the defendant-law firm regularly conducts business there, and that venue was thus also proper against the defendant-individual attorney pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1006 because he and the defendant law firm were jointly liable for the alleged malpractice.
Schaer and Shapiro successfully argued to the court that because a law firm cannot practice law it can only be vicariously liable for the acts of its individual attorney-employees, not jointly liable for their acts, and that thus there was no basis for venue in Philadelphia County against the defendant-individual attorney. The issue of the availability of joint liability between a law firm and its individual attorneys for legal malpractice is a matter of first impression in Pennsylvania.