Boat owner sues former attorneys for negligence after $3 million verdict goes against them

By Alejandro de los Rios | Jun 30, 2011


A Louisiana boat owner is suing the law firm of Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard, claiming negligence after the firm allegedly failed to keep the boat owner from having to pay a $3 million verdict.

New Orleans attorneys Randall Smith, Geoffrey Ormsby, Hiawatha Northington and Melissa Desormeaux filed the petition for damages on behalf of Heather Lynn Inc. in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on June 27.

The lawsuit claims that attorneys from the Lugenbhul firm failed to "assert as a defense the Shipowner's Right to Limitation of Liability" as the ship in question was valued at around $300,000.

The Heather Lynn-owned ship, the M/V Captain Rayne, was the subject of a civil lawsuit in the St. Mary Parish Civil District Court in 2008.

A ruling in that awarded the plaintiff more than $3 million. Heather Lynn's insurance policy was capped at $1 million and, as a result, was responsible for the remainder of the judgment.

Heather Lynn is now accusing its former attorneys of negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

"As a result of the legal malpractice ... Heather Lynn was found responsible for the Excess Judgment in the Personal Injury Suit and paid amounts ... to satisfy that Excess Judgment," the suit states.

The lawsuit seeks a trial by jury.

Orleans Parish Judge Madeleine Landrieu is overseeing this case.

Orleans Parish Case 2011-6804

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