Five years ago I was forced to defend one of my patents against a charge of infringement. I engaged a prestigious Pittsburgh law firm. They promised to provide competent representation led by a litigator who was reputed to be super.
Considerably into the case, the super litigator, whom I spent considerable time educating about the technicalities of the case, was suddenly pulled off the case by this law firm and I was given a litigator who turned out to be considerably inferior in skills. I was given no warning and no choice in the matter.
I am a layman where matters of law are concerned, but, during the conduct of the case, I was getting the feeling that my attorneys were incompetent, losing advantage at almost every turn and showing that they were not knowledgeable.
I knew that we did not infringe. Further, my attorneys were telling me that we should prevail in this lawsuit. Therefore, I pressed on. It went on for 2 years. The whole thing was debilitating to me, my family and my business. In additional to the physical and emotional costs, I could not afford for this to continue financially. At one point, I thought I may have to remortgage my home.
The case reached the Summary Judgment level. We lost. That is, we did not win, and, in my estimation, we should have. The Judge said that my attorneys had failed to prove that our product did not infringe. He cited several examples of case law, leaving me to wonder why my own attorneys were not aware of those cases. Further, I believe, we should have won this case at an early stage. My attorneys simply did an inadequate job of telling our story.
We had filed a separate Invalidity Motion. My attorneys told me that they thought we had an 80% chance of winning on Invalidity. At Summary Judgment, the Judge said that he would not even rule on our Invalidity Motion because (he said) my lawyers did not educate him properly.
By that time, I had neither the will nor the finances to continue the case. I was forced to settle, and not on a very pretty (or just) basis. The fees I had paid my attorneys came to nearly $450,000...unbelievable. Very small companies, like mine, could have survived such a hit...and then my attorneys said that I owed them another $98,000. That was rubbing salt into the wound.
In view of (what seemed obvious to me to be) their incompetent performance, I refused to pay their additional billing. As a result they are now suing me to force me to pay the $98,000. I am offended that they would even ask for it...Therefore, I have filed a Countersuit asking for repayment of the $450,000 that I already paid them and which they never truly earned.
I have engaged another law firm to defend me and to pursue our Countersuit. So far, I am happy with these guys. It is well known that it is difficult to find competent attorneys who are willing to sue other attorneys for incompetence. Bucking the establishment...taking on the "Old boys club" requires an attorney who is something of a maverick.
I am a businessman who has worked 65+ hours per week all of my life. I did so for the benefit of myself and my family and also to make sure that the good people employed by my company continue to have jobs. Check us out at www.extech-voegele.com.
It turns out that I am a good guy who is a victim within the justice system that is supposed to help the good guys. I guess an old attorney was right when he said to me, "You will get all the justice that you can afford".
I am not litigious. I was willing to let my ex-attorneys keep the $450,000 and simply call it the worst experience of my life. But, after the incompetent job that they did, I am refusing to pay them even more and I am also asking for my money back.
The cards are stacked against me. I am fighting the guys who make the rules. Is it even possible for me to find justice here? I don't know, but I must keep trying.
I told this story (thanks for listening) in the hope of finding a sympathetic and knowledgeable ear. If you have had experience in a case involving Legal Malpractice or Breach of Contract (which is what I think we have here), I will appreciate your comments.
Please pass this along to anyone else you may know who might be able to offer advice. I will deeply appreciate it.
Bill Voegele - President - EXTECH/Exterior Technologies, Inc....www.extech-voegele.com