Lawyer who got $1M sanction reversed will have to pay $45K for other 'egregious tactics,' court says
Pennsylvania insurance defense lawyer Nancy Raynor isn’t entirely off the hook after a decision earlier this year overturning a $1 million sanction against her for allegedly eliciting banned testimony in a medical malpractice case.
In a decision (PDF) on Tuesday, a three-judge superior court panel said Raynor will have to pay nearly $45,000 in fees and costs for allegedly pressuring a witness in the same trial, report the Legal Intelligencer (sub. req.) and Philadelphia Inquirer.
The decision upheld a trial judge’s decision to remove Raynor as defense counsel in the case and to require her to pay nearly $45,000 in attorney fees and costs for pressuring the expert witness through a letter to her employer.
The expert witness, an emergency room doctor, was expected to testify as an expert for the plaintiff. The letter to her employer warned that the doctor’s anticipated testimony could expose the employer, which wasn’t a party in the case, to significant liability.
The “clear intent” of the letter was to pressure the doctor’s employer into coercing the doctor to either change her opinion or to refrain from testifying, the courts said.
According to the court, the trial judge did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights by disqualifying Raynor, and the judge had sufficient foundation to impose the monetary sanctions.
“To prevent Raynor from continuing these egregious tactics in this case,” the superior court said, “and to assure due process and a fair trial, it was necessary to disqualify her as counsel.”
Disqualification alone wasn’t a sufficient remedy, the court said, because the plaintiff had to incur substantial expenses to obtain the disqualification order.
The state supreme court is being asked to reinstate the $1 million sanction against Raynor, which stemmed from an accusation that Raynor had elicited banned testimony about a woman’s history of smoking. The woman’s estate claimed an emergency room doctor failed to tell the woman about X-rays showing a nodule on her lung.
Hat tip to How Appealing.