• May 26, 2015

thin-ice-17996_1280Market pressures can push lawyers (like all people) out past their sure-footed core competencies onto thin ice and for several years now, market pressures for U.S. lawyers have been more intense than ever been before. No surprise, then, that there has been a concurrent up-tick in alleged professional negligence and attorney wrong-doing.

Sometimes lawyers’ errors mean meritorious plaintiffs are unsuccessful. Sometimes, lawyers’ errors mean  defendants have to pay to settle cases that they never should have had to deal with at all, much less pay undeserving plaintiffs.

Tragically, sometimes lawyers’ mistakes can have even worse consequences.

If the allegations in the complaint in Rosendahl et al. v. Jennifer Casanova d/b/a Casanova Criminal Defense are borne out, a fairly recently minted lawyer holding herself out as a criminal defense lawyer ventured onto the thin ice of an immigration practice, allying herself with non-lawyers who, it seems, took on clients using the lawyer’s license to perform incompetent services in connection with the handling of immigration issues. Counsel for Casanova, however, have denied any wrong-doing by Casanova. Reviewing her answer to the Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), her defense seems to be that she simply got criminal defense referrals from co-defendants and otherwise had little if anything to do with them or their work.

It is alleged that one client was sent back to Mexico through his legal advisors’ “ineptitude.” SAC, Para. 161. On his return to Mexico, he was then allegedly repeatedly kidnapped, pressed into forced labor, and his family has had no word from him since October, 2013, leaving behind a wife and child in Minnesota. According to the complaint, a competent immigration lawyer would have been able to keep this unfortunate situation from happening.

The SAC goes on to recite a litany of damaging errors in regard to other immigration cases that, if true, no amounts of money could ever fully repair.

The lawsuit is being prosecuted for plaintiffs by The Wilson Law Group. It is before Hennepin County District Court Judge Frank McGill and the Minnesota lawyer named in the complaint is being represented by lawyers from Bassford Remele, one of the “go-to” firms in Minneapolis for lawyers in cases of legal malpractice.

Summary judgment motions are pending. Trial is set for January, 2016.

Two final asides: (1) I note that the Casanova answer does not follow the normal standard for Minnesota civil answers that, normally, go through each paragraph of the complaint and answer each paragraph of the complaint. The approach used in this answer makes it far easier to write and far easier to read. Maybe the defense lawyers are on to something there? and (2) It seems that The Wilson Law Group has brought a claim for legal malpractice (SAC at p. 49, Count 3) but allegedly failed to follow the proper procedure for such a claim (Answer at Para. 54)? What’s up with that? Failure to follow the rules can result in “mandatory dismissal of each cause of action with prejudice as to which expert testimony is necessary to establish a prima facie case.” This lapse, if it really happened, would only gut one of many claims against one of many defendants but maybe one of the stronger claims against maybe the most solvent defendant?


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