Fishman v. Brooks
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
487 N.E.2d 1377 (1986)
Larimore Brooks (plaintiff) filed a legal malpractice action against attorney Irving Fishman (defendant) after Fishman negligently caused Brooks to settle a personal injury claim for an amount well below what Brooks would have obtained at trial. While riding his bicycle, Brooks was struck by a car and seriously injured. Thereafter, Fishman, who had not litigated a case in over a decade, made no effort to examine the vehicle that struck Brooks or to investigate what the driver had been doing immediately prior to hitting Brooks. Further, Fishman engaged in minimal discovery with the opposing party and, instead, relied primarily on information supplied by the negligent driver’s insurance company. Once the matter was set for trial, Fishman attempted to collaborate with another attorney experienced in litigation but the negotiations fell through when Fishman refused to evenly split his fee with the lawyer. Fishman did not know that the negligent driver’s insurance policy limit was $1 million. Instead, Fishman told Brooks that only $250,000 was available. Brooks rejected the offer. Shortly before trial, Fishman informed Brooks that he could not win the case. Thus, Brooks was forced to settle the matter for $160,000 knowing Fishman was unprepared to litigate the matter. At the trial on the legal malpractice claim, the original personal injury action was litigated in an effort to ascertain what damages Brooks could have received had the matter proceeded to trial. An experienced tort attorney and a claims adjuster testified that a fair settlement value for Brooks’s injury claim was between $400,000 and $500,000. The jury found Fishman negligent in handling Brooks’s personal injury action and assessed damages of $525,000. The trial judge entered judgment for Brooks and reduced his damages to reflect his 10 percent contributory fault in the personal injury suit, the amount of medical expenses paid from the settlement, and the amount Brooks personally received from the settlement. Fishman appealed. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court granted certiorari to review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 723,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 723,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 45,500 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.