Lawyer deemed neg­li­gent in han­dling of in­sur­ance claim


A North Syd­ney lawyer has been found to be neg­li­gent in his rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a Syd­ney man’s in­sur­ance claim stem­ming from a mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent.

Supreme Court Jus­tice Peter Rosin­ski ruled this week that David Ian­netti had a duty of care to ad­vise Ge­orge Poulain that he should seek another lawyer’s ad­vice in con­nec­tion with a pro­posed set­tle­ment of an in­sur­ance claim. In his de­ci­sion, Rosin­ski con­cluded that the con­tract be­tween Ian­netti and Poulain only dealt with one as­pect of the in­sur­ance claim and that it was Poulain alone deal­ing with the sec­ond claim.

The judge ruled that when Poulain called Ian­netti and asked him for an opin­ion on whether he should sign off on the sec­ond claim, Ian­netti should have rec­om­mended he seek sep­a­rate coun­sel.

“Mr. Ian­netti did not rec­om­mend to Mr. Poulain that he ob­tain in­de­pen­dent le­gal ad­vice. Mr. Ian­netti did not pro­vide Mr. Poulain with suf­fi­cient in­forma- tion to al­low Mr. Poulain to make an in­formed de­ci­sion re­gard­ing his in­quiry as what he was giv­ing up by sign­ing the re­lease,” said Rosin­ski, adding Ian­netti also failed to ad­vise Poulain there was po­ten­tial for fur­ther ben­e­fits be­yond a two-year lim­i­ta­tion.

Poulain was in­jured in a car ac­ci­dent in 2001 and since Ian­netti was al­ready rep­re­sent­ing him, pro bono, in an un­re­lated mat­ter, Poulain asked Ian­netti to ac­cept the case.

The court ruled that the con­tract with Ian­netti was only for one as­pect of the in­sur­ance claim and that Poulain was han­dling the other claim him­self.

Rosin­ski also ruled he was sat­is­fied that Poulain only called Ian­netti once con­cern­ing the sec­ond stage of the claim and that was whether he should ac­cept the of­fer.

Rosin­ski ruled that Ian­netti’s an­swer was not a breach but that Ian­netti did have a duty to “ei­ther clearly and em­phat­i­cally rec­om­mend that Mr. Poulain seek in­de­pen­dent le­gal ad­vice from another lawyer be­fore sign­ing the re­lease.”

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