Legal Ethics

Judge who sanctioned lawyer $1M says she 'sabotaged' the case by eliciting banned testimony

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The Philadelphia judge who sanctioned a lawyer nearly $1 million said in an opinion on Wednesday that she intentionally elicited banned testimony from an expert witness and “sabotaged” the case.

Judge Paul Panepinto said lawyer Nancy Raynor, who represented a med-mal defendant, failed to properly instruct an expert witness about a ban on any references to smoking by the decedent, whose family was suing for failure to diagnose lung cancer. The Associated Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Legal Intelligencer have stories on the opinion.

“Raynor’s determination to try this case in her own way and against the rules of this court, with a lack of fairness to other parties, culminated in her willful elicitation of barred testimony,” Panepinto said.

“It is glaringly apparent that Raynor’s conduct was orchestrated to improperly influence the outcome of this trial,” Panepinto wrote.

The $950,000 sanction represented the cost of the plaintiffs’ attorney fees, which were “reasonable and based on industry standards,” Panepinto said.

Raynor told AP that the judge ignored witnesses who said they heard Raynor warn the expert about the ban on smoking testimony. The judge “certainly issued a scathing, factually inaccurate opinion,” Raynor said.

Raynor said she may have to close her law firm in Malvern after efforts to collect the money resulted in frozen bank accounts and a lien on her home in Berwyn. “It takes money to make money,” Raynor told AP.

Related articles: “Lawyer’s personal assets, bank accounts at risk as opponents seek to collect $1M sanction” “Lawyer sanctioned $1M for allowing smoking reference in med-mal trial”

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