Not all breaches of confidence are equal

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Typically when an attorney breaches a duty of confidentiality to a client, the downside to the client is embarrassment and a loss of money.  The downside to the attorney is bar discipline and civil liability.

In a case out of Maryland, however, it is alleged that the breach of trust and revealing of information lead to the hired murder of the client.

As reported at The Legal Profession Blog and picked up by the ABA, a Maryland attorney learned that his client was being investigated about a mail and bank fraud scheme.  Although there appears to be some disagreement about some of the facts, it is undisputed that the attorney spoke to one of the co-conspirators about the investigation.

The client’s family claims that these communications were without authorization and informed the co-conspirator that the police were interested in getting the attorney’s client to cooperate with the investigation.  The co-conspirator then hired someone to kill the attorney’s client.

The attorney has suffered the “normal” consequences of such breaches.  He has been indefinitely suspended and settled a civil claim.

What is not typical in a legal malpractice type of action is for it to be called a “wrongful death” lawsuit.  This is a tragic case, and especially unusual in the legal malpractice world.


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