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Attorney's Unscrupulous Actions Lead to Sanctions

When an attorney engages in misconduct, a case can falter. When the misconduct is particularly egregious, a case can collapse, and Wade v. Soo Line Railroad is an extreme instance of this: a weak argument compounded and doomed by the reckless actions of a plaintiff's lawyer.

Michael Wade filed a routine workers' compensation suit in 2003 after he claimed to have injured his shoulder on the job when a hand brake malfunctioned, leading to a collision. Representing him was George Brugess, a Chicago-based attorney with Hoey & Farina who is experienced in railroad and Federal Employee Liability Act cases.

"The rules of conduct clearly and explicitly set forth--and every attorney is quite well aware--that they are not permitted to take a position directly adverse to their current client," says John Fabian, an associate with McDonald Hopkins in Cleveland. "It's hard to imagine many more situations more directly adverse than this."

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The 7th Circuit agreed. In oral arguments, Judge Frank Easterbrook interrupted Brugess to ask why he was still representing Wade.

Associate Editor

Melissa Maleske

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