Contact
  • Donna Bader
  • Attorney at Law
  • Certified Specialist in Appellate Law
  • 668 North Coast Hwy, Ste. 1355
  • Laguna Beach, CA  92651
  • Tel.: (949) 494-7455
  • Fax: (949) 494-1017
  • Donna@DonnaBader.Com

 

 

Donna Bader

Attorney at Law

Certified Specialist in Appellate Law

668 North Coast Hwy, Ste. 1355

Laguna Beach, CA  92651

Tel.: (949) 494-7455

Fax: (949) 494-1017

Donna@DonnaBader.com

 

 

 

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Tuesday
Sep112012

Have you Googled your clients lately?

 

The Internet is a great source for information.  As attorneys, we need to get our names out there so prospective clients can find us.  On the flip side, how often do you, as part of your intake, conduct searches on your clients? 

In Cajamarca v. Regal Entertainment Group, Case No. 11 Civ. 2780, District Judge Cogan of the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York awarded sanctions to defendants in the amount of $3,000, plus costs of $3,683.  Okay, it's not such a huge amount, but the Order makes for fun reading.  

Apparently, the District Judge previously granted defendants' motion for summary judgment in a sexual harassment case filed by Veronica Cajamarca, who alleged that she had been subjected to sexual harassment when a co-worker exposed himself and masturbated in front of her (the "break room incident").  The defendants then filed a motion for sanctions and attorney's fees seeking $552,627.50 in fees and costs of $113,177.36. 

It seems in opposing the summary judgment motion, plaintiff had been portrayed as "essentially an ingénue who was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident perpetrated by her sexually abusive co-worker."  That sounds pretty serious, except for a few minordetails: 

  • Plaintiff had prior convictions for prostitution, worked as a call girl, and "had a rather fulsome sexual history, including an interest in sado-masochism.
  • During her deposition, and even when questioned by her own psychiatrist, she omitted her sexual history.  Rather than being "bedridden" and in a "vegetative state" as a result of the incident, her Facebook page describes "an extraordinarily active travel and social life," which included "engaging in sexual banter with friends."
  • Plaintiff's testimony that the break room incident occurred after several months of socializing with the co-worker was false.  Documentary evidence showed that the break room incident happened first, and then plaintiff had an active relationship with the co-worker that included lending him money.  She was still friendly with him after the break room incident, but there was strong support for the co-worker's claim that Cajamarca turned on him "when he advised her that he was reconciling with his wife." 

How did Cajamarca respond to these claims?  Her counsel responded with procedural defenses, i.e., the motion was filed too late, the defendants improperly combined the two motions, and did not give adequate notice.  

The District Court concluded that "plaintiff's lawyer should be roundly embarrassed.  At the very least, he did an extraordinarily poor job of client intake in not learning highly material information about his client, . . . "  The Court sanctioned plaintiff's attorney, in part because he never advised his client to preserve data on her laptop's hard drive.  It found "Defendants were clearly prejudiced by the obstruction of discovery because if they had had the data when they took plaintiff's deposition, the tenuousness of her damages claim would likely have become even more apparent and might well have resulted in the withdrawal or nominal settlement of the claim." 

Tip for the Day:  Research potential clients by Google and Facebook.