Upholding the Standards of Professional Practice and Ethics
The lawyers at Orr | Cook have taken an oath before the Florida Bar to support the Constitution, respect the courts, uphold justice, act with truth and honor, maintain client confidences and conduct our practice with fairness, integrity and civility. We apply these sacred promises to our practice every day and we expect other professionals to likewise act in accordance with the standards of their chosen occupation. When a professional breaches their respective duties, our lawyers take decisive action to recover damages on behalf of the aggrieved client.
We also recognize that in any occupation, professionals face devastating consequences — such as license suspension, financial losses and damage to reputation — despite having acted reasonably and in their clients’ best interests. In such a case, we vigorously defend the professional against unfounded claims made by an unhappy or opportunistic client.
Attorneys are held to the standards set by the Bar. Noncompliance with these standards can result in disciplinary action, license suspension and disbarment. An injured client also has the right to sue for damages sustained as a result of a lawyer’s nonprofessional, unethical conduct. Matters that may result in legal action include:
- Violation of attorney/client privilege and confidentiality
- Breach of fiduciary duty – for example, improper use of trust funds
- Conflict of interests
- Failure to communicate
- Ineffective representation that rose to the level of professional negligence
Surgeons, doctors, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists and other medical providers swear to protect the health of their patients. A medical professional may be sued for malpractice if:
- The medical professional had a duty to the patient
- The medical professional deviated from the accepted standard of care in breach of her or his duty to the patient
- The breach was the proximate cause of injuries to the patient
- The patient suffered damages because of the medical professional’s breach
An accounting mistake can cause substantial financial damage to a business, investors and other stakeholders. The liability of a certified public accountant (CPA) or auditor is typically based upon these theories:
- Privity when the accountant fails to perform services as specified in the contract with a client
- Negligence for failing to exercise professional care
- Fraud if the CPA misrepresents a material fact with the intention of misleading another party
- Statutory liability for violations of Florida law or federal regulations
In the wake of recent Wall Street scandals, stockbrokers are now subjected to heightened scrutiny by regulators for:
- Misrepresentation of a material fact related to the purchase or sale of a security
- Dealing in securities that are unregistered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- Churning — or overtrading — on an investor’s account to increase brokerage commissions
- Inappropriate stock advice, including pushing an unsuitable stock in order to increase commissions
- Breach of fiduciary duty the broker owes to the investor
In addition to criminal charges, injured parties may file a civil lawsuit against the brokerage house or dealer for these alleged transgressions.
Architects & Engineers
Architects and engineers are tasked with designing safe buildings that comply with the law and that meet budgetary restraints. These professionals may be held accountable if a structure’s design flaw results in personal injury, such as an accident caused by a collapsing bridge or an unstable building foundation. Also, a mistake may give rise to property liability claims — for example, a home that fails to withstand tropical storm level winds in violation of Florida’s construction codes.
Officers & Directors
Officers and directors are given certain immunities under corporation laws. But, although they are not held personally responsible for poor decisions, they may be found liable for conduct involving:
- Conflict of interests
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Illegal acts
Title insurance is not casualty based, but rather insures against past events to validate an owner’s interest in property. The insurer indemnifies for losses, defends the property owner in litigation and, if possible, cures title defects, liens and encumbrances. The title agent is responsible for determining insurability of the title, including establishing current ownership and ensuring that liens are satisfied. Mistakes in this process can render property unmarketable or put real estate ownership in question.
Consult with Our North Florida Legal Team
Whether you are a professional facing unsubstantiated allegations or you have sustained damages because of professional malpractice, call Orr | Cook at 904.358.8300 or contact us online to discuss your rights and options.