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In the past, I always wondered on lawyer shows how accurate they were about the law. Now, I'm in a position to actually know what they get right and wrong, and I figured I would share that knowledge with you guys. I hope you enjoy it. If not, I'll shut up and go away. Non-compete Clauses - Suits has made frequent use of non-compete clauses as a plot device. The idea is that it would severely limit anyone who quits the firm in their ability to practice law. In this episode, they stated that it was a part of the standard contract with anyone who joins the firm, and they have made several other uses of it in the show as a plot device. From a little bit of research, I discovered that New York follows the ABA model rules in prohibiting lawyers from entering into non-compete agreements that would affect their right to practice. In other words, the New York Bar would not look kindly on a major firm requiring all of its lawyers to agree not to compete. (See New York Rule of Professional Conduct 5.6). Contributory Negligence - In this episode, Mike threatened to use contributory negligence as a way to bar the claim by the opposing lawyer. In the real world, contributory negligence does indeed act as a bar to a plaintiff's negligence claim. For instance, if you were hit by a guy who ran a stop sign, and you had also run a stop sign, then you would be unable to recover. Your negligence is also a contributing factor, so you do not recover anything. It also does not matter how small your fault was. For instance, if the defendant who was driving on the left side of the road while going 100 mph in a 45 mph zone and running a stop sign manages to hit and kill a plaintiff who was jaywalking, the plaintiff cannot recover. By jaywalking, the plaintiff was acting negligently, and, therefore, he cannot recover. (If it helps you feel any better about this, it works both ways. The speeding driver might be able to sue the negligent jaywalker for the damage caused to his bumper when he hit the jaywalker, but he is also barred because he was negligent. The jaywalker's estate will not be held liable for fixing the human-shaped dent in the hood.) So, they were correct in how they explained contributory negligence. If a few sips of alcohol really did contribute to the man's death, then he really would be barred from recovering regardless of whether the surgeon botched the surgery. The problem is that there are only four states in the U.S. that use contributory negligence, and New York is not one of them. (FWIW, those states are Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. I've also heard that D.C. uses contributory negligence. And, let me just say as someone who practices in one of those states, contributory negligence is a real bitch.) New York uses pure comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence, you assign percentages of fault to the individuals involved in the incident, and reduce the recovery accordingly. Let's use the speeder and the jaywalker example from before. If we say that the speeder is 90% responsible, and the jaywalker is 10% responsible, then the jaywalker's estate could recover 90% of the damages caused to him. If the speeder feels like he wants to countersue for the cost to clean the human goo out of the grill of his car, he is legally entitled to 10% of the clean up costs. (As a strategy, I would not recommend suing the estate of a dead man you hit for the damage he caused to your truck. Juries tend to not be terribly sympathetic about that sort of thing.) The result in this episode of Suits would be that the plaintiff who died would probably not be considered to be that responsible for his own death (maybe 10% again) and the surgeon might be considered 90% responsible. Comparative negligence would probably reduce the amount that the plaintiff could recover, but it would certainly not bar a recovery in this case. So, I hope everyone found that interesting. If not, I'll shut up and go away and just enjoy one of my favorite shows. Edit: You guys might want some sources. http://negligence.laws.com/comparative-negligence http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/ny/narr/NY_NARR_5.HTM#5.6