Justia Georgia Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Legal Malpractice
In 2010, Monica Williams was shot and killed at an apartment complex managed by Appellees UFRA-Sexton, LP and Signature Management Corporation ("UFRA-Sexton"). Appellant Belinda Hodge was Williams' sister. Kristi Bussey had known Hodge for approximately ten years prior to Williams' death. Hodge retained attorney Craig Brookes of the law firm Hanks Brookes, LLC to pursue claims associated with the death of Williams. Bussey worked as a paralegal at Hanks Brookes. Bussey communicated regularly with Hodge about Hanks Brookes' investigation of the case, counsel's thoughts about the case, legal work being performed, and strategy for moving forward. UFRA-Sexton's insurer, Scottsdale Insurance Company, retained the firm of Insley & Race, LLC to represent UFRA-Sexton in the Williams matter. Bussey left her position as a paralegal with Hanks Brookes and began working as a legal assistant at another law firm. In early 2011, Bussey applied for a paralegal position at Insley & Race. Brynda Insley personally called, and obtained a reference from Hanks Brookes. Hanks never disclosed any possible conflict with regard to Bussey or Hanks Brookes' work on the Williams case. Hanks was unaware that UFRA-Sexton was represented by Insley & Race in the Williams case. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the Court of Appeals correctly held that a conflict of interest involving a nonlawyer could be remedied by implementing proper screening measures in order to avoid disqualification of the entire law firm. The Court held that a nonlawyer's conflict of interest could be remedied by implementing proper screening measures so as to avoid disqualification of an entire law firm. In this case, the Court found that the screening measures implemented by the nonlawyer's new law firm were effective and appropriate to protect against the nonlawyer's disclosure of confidential information. However, the case was remanded back to the trial court for a hearing to determine whether the new law firm promptly disclosed the conflict.View "Hodge v. Ufra-Sexton, LP" on Justia Law