Bell v. Law Offices of Howard A. Lawrence LLC
At a hearing in damages that follows a default judgment, legal malpractice can be deemed admitted, and a court can award damages against a law firm. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Norma Bell, hired the defendant law firm, the Law Offices of Howard A. Lawrence LLC, in connection with a slip and fall in a parking lot contiguous to the Stop & Shop Supermarket in Ansonia. The defendant law firm filed suit against the Stop & Shop Supermarket, and a court granted Stop & Shop's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the owner of the parking lot controlled the parking lot. The law firm did not appeal the ruling on the motion to dismiss. The plaintiff sued the defendant law firm, and a default judgment entered. At a hearing on damages, the court found that the plaintiff effectively proved the plaintiff's allegations of legal malpractice against the defendant law firm, as a result of the law firm's default. The plaintiff also proved that the parking lot was defective, that the plaintiff slipped and fell as a result of the defect, and that Stop & Shop Supermarket or the owner of the parking lot were negligent. Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered a concussion and ongoing difficulty as a result of post-concussion syndrome, and she underwent a frontal craniotomy that resulted in a scar. The court awarded economic damages in the amount of $187,781 and non-economic damages, for pain and suffering, of $350,000, for a total award of $537,787.