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Unformatted text preview: Elan Weinreb Page 1 of 73 Elan Weinreb January 19, 2001 Professional Responsibility Perez v. Kirk & Carrigan 822 S.W.2d 261 (Tex. Ct. App. 1991) Rule of Law: An attorney-client relationship may be implied from the conduct of involved parties, and monetary compensation is not a pre-requisite for formation of such a relationship. The standard of fiduciary duty owed by an attorney to his client is that of uberrima fidesutmost good faith (what could also be termed as the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive Meinhard v. Salmon). Case Facts: This case arises out of a school bus accident in Texas. Perez was employed by Valley-Coca-Cola Bottling Company as a truck driver. One morning, Perez attempted to stop his truck at a stop sign along his route, but the trucks brakes failed to stop the truck, which collided with the school bus. The loaded bus was knocked into a pond, and 21 kids died. Perez suffered injuries from the collision and was taken to a local hospital to be treated. The day after the accident, Kirk & Carrigan (K&C), lawyers who had been hired to represent Valley Coca-Cola, visited Perez in the hospital for the purpose of taking his statement. Perez claimed that K&C told him that they were his lawyers too and that anything he told them would be kept confidential. With this understanding, Perez gave K&C lawyers an affidavit concerning the accident. However, after taking this statement, K&C did not have any further contact with Perez. Instead, K&C made arrangements for criminal defense attorney Joseph Connors to represent Perez. Connors was paid by National Union Fire Insurance Company, which covered both Valley Coca- Cola and Perez for liability in connection with the accident. Some time later, K&C, without telling Connors or Perez, turned Perez statement over to the DAs office. K&C contended that Perez statement was provided in a good faith attempt to fully comply with a request of the DAs office and under threat of subpoena if they did not comply. On the basis of Perez sworn statement, the DA indicted him for involuntary manslaughter for his actions. Procedural History and Outcome: K&C contended that there was no attorney-client relationship in this case and that no fiduciary duty on their part arose because Perez never sought legal advice from them. The court below rendered summary judgment against Perez on his causes of action of breach of the fiduciary duty of good faith and fair dealing against K&Cs firm and against K&C individually. The court deciding this case reversed the verdict of summary judgment and remanded for a new trial. Issue(s): Did K&Cs guarantees of confidentiality and taking of Perez sworn statement potentially form an attorney-client relationship that would have obligated K&C in the fiduciary duty of good faith and fair dealing owed by attorneys to clients?...
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