Gentiva Health Services, Inc. v. Weston Hurd Fallon Paisley and Halley, LLP

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas

Palmer marshaled evidence that company's law firm committed legal malpractice resulting in huge verdict against it.

Gentiva (formerly Olsten) provided home health care services in northeastern Ohio. After one of its employees was terminated, she filed an age discrimination lawsuit in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas. Weston Hurd, a Cleveland law firm, defended Gentiva in that case, Fredrickson v. Olsten Health Services Corp., et al. After a lengthy trial, the jury found in favor of Fredrickson on Thanksgiving eve in 2000, awarding $675,000 in compensatory damages and $30,000,000 in punitive damages. The evidence showed that during trial Fredrickson demanded $300,000. Weston Hurd failed to communicate this amount to Gentiva. Gentiva would have settled the case for $300,000. Instead, after spending significant legal fees to present the best possible chance on appeal, Gentiva settled the case with Fredrickson in June 2002 for $5,100,000. Gentiva then brought this legal malpractice case against Weston Hurd, which after extensive litigation was settled for a confidential amount following two private mediations.