CSG Law Alert: Matrimonial Mayhem Fueled by Legal Malpractice?
A husband and wife become enmeshed in an acrimonious divorce. Nothing new there. Add in the following shocking allegation, just raised by the wife: her husband’s lawyer aided the husband in installing malware on her computer, capturing emails between the wife and her lawyer and some draft pleadings.
In a civil action for money damages, the wife alleges her husband’s lawyer knew or should have known of the malware attack, and benefitted by using the information obtained through the malware in a series of motions against the wife in the matrimonial case.
The information was obtained as a result of the husband using a device known as a “keylogger”, and transmitted a record of all the activity on his wife’s computer to himself several times an hour. The program also allegedly allowed the husband to alter emails and other documents taken from his wife’s computer. The husband then provided the altered documents to his lawyer.
During the course of the divorce, at the husband’s urging, the firm filed motions alleging that the wife committed defamation, was an unfit parent, evaded taxes, invested in a company illegally selling drugs and various other acts of misconduct, all of which the wife states were unfounded and concocted.
To complicate matters even more, the husband’s lawyer, who was chair of the matrimonial section at his law firm during the divorce, was disbarred for unrelated ethical violations. The firm is now left to defend his alleged actions, which they vigorously deny.
Takeaway? Matrimonial clients can be a handful. Litigation is sometimes conducted at a fever pitch. Lawyers have to maintain control of the clients and make sure allegations are based in fact before embroiling themselves and their firms in making claims which cannot be proven. Lawyers need to check the provenance of documents a client produces, especially those to which logic dictates the client should not have had access.