Legal Ethics

Lawyer Sanctioned for Filing 'Frivolous' Depo Distress Suit

A New Jersey judge has ordered a plaintiffs lawyer to pay $2,500 plus attorney fees for filing a frivolous lawsuit alleging his opponent’s deposition questions caused his client emotional distress.

That suit was dismissed last fall, and in late March New Jersey Superior Court Judge Alfonse Cifelli ordered the sanctions against Bruce Nagel, of Roseland, N.J.’s Nagel Rice, the New Jersey Law Journal reports. In addition to the penalty, he was ordered to pay $11,630 in lawyer fees.

Cifelli, however, stayed payment of both until an appellate court rules on the dismissal of Nagel’s case. Cifelli ruled at that time that the deposition questions were protected by the litigation privilege.

Nagel continues to maintain his suit was justified, telling the legal publication, “If it’s going to cost me $2,500 a day to protect my clients from barbaric questioning, I’ll write the check every day.”

At issue was a deposition in a medical malpractice case in which a mother was questioned aggressively after an expert, apparently wrongly, indicated that the baby may have died from shaken baby syndrome. The child reportedly died after an emergency room refused to admit her for breathing problems.

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