Biglaw attorneys are, generally speaking, corporate shills. But you don’t get to just say that out loud! There’s a gentility to this profession that we have to maintain. Philadelphia personal injury attorney Thomas Bosworth learned that the hard way, enduring a tongue-lashing from Judge Stephanie Haines of the Western District of Pennsylvania over “obnoxious” and “frankly appalling behavior” she identified upon review of deposition transcripts.
Bosworth, who scored a massive medical malpractice award last year as an associate before striking out on his own, apologized for the coarse deposition behavior, noting that he wasn’t proud of his behavior and takes ownership of his mistakes.
But while he showed contrition for the harsh tone — which, in addition to the corporate shills remark included calling an opposing attorney a “liar” and saying counsel “intentionally abuse people” — he was less willing to accept other allegations lodged by defense counsel:
Lawyers from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, who represented defendants in the case, had lodged the sanction motion in January, alleging Bosworth‘s conduct was so disruptive that the testimony elicited during the depositions was “unrecoverably tainted.”
That does sound sanctionable… and yet Bosworth raised the compelling counterpoint that they already settled the case. If the defense truly believed that this case was so remarkably tainted, then why settle? Perhaps that disconnect speaks to why the judge, according to the Legal Intelligencer account, focused so much more on the mean-spirited behavior than the allegations that Bosworth undermined the case.
Of course, settling doesn’t excuse misbehavior of any kind, but it does force one to take the sanctions motion’s fiery rhetoric about rendering the case “unrecoverably tainted” — which isn’t a word by the way… it’s “irrecoverably” — with a grain of salt. The defense’s request to file its specific money demand under seal doesn’t inspire much confidence that the request is going to keep things in proper perspective either.
Whether Bosworth ends up on the hook for the “tens of thousands” defense counsel alluded to requesting or not, this whole experience has undoubtedly chastened him.
You can begrudge the corporate shills all you want, but you’ve got to keep that to yourself.
‘Dozens and Dozens of Personal Attacks’: Fed Court Sanctions High Profile Phila. Lawyer For Deposition Conduct [Legal Intelligencer]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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