14 Dec 2016

Did Oregon Attorney Brenna Tanzosh commit legal Malfeasance?

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In a case recently litigated, opposing counsel Oregon Attorney Brenna Tanzosh pursued a course of legal action with objectively no chance of success resulting in the massive financial, emotional, and legal detriment of her own client.

One possible course of analysis is to ask, when does foolhardy optimism combined with zealous advocacy mix in such a way to undermine one’s own legal case and bring harm to one’s own client.

In this matter, opposing counsel Ms. Brenna Tanzosh sought an out-of-state relocation of her client and children away from the children’s lifelong home in Oregon and away from their biological Father. The mother wished to relocate to Utah where her family resides.

Early on in the case, the presiding judge had informed both counsel for clients informally in chambers that Ms. Tanzosh’s proposed course of action was “not going to happen.” Ms. Tanzosh admitted herself that the proposed course of action was an “uphill battle.” And an independent expert hired to evaluate the matter stated before rendering her opinion that such a request presented a “high bar” and that such a request was almost never appropriate.

Ultimately, the expert rendered her opinion stating that “none” of the factors in the case warranted a move out of state, forcing opposing counsel and client to withdraw the request.

Unfortunately, this result came only after decimating her own client’s present and future financial position, costing her own client approximately $100,000 in legal fees paid to Ms. Tanzosh’s private law practice and collected upon by way of a financial lien against her own client’s home in which the children in question had been raised for the entirety of their lives, thus forcing liquidation of the family home to settle Ms. Tanzosh’s billings and lien.

Does the knowledge that a legal position is nearly certain to fail confer any obligation onto the attorney to forego such a course of action when doing so will result in extensive harm to one’s own client? Is the failure to prevent such harm to one’s own client legal Malfeasance? Is there a fiduciary conflict of interest by the attorney who collects approximately $100,000 in legal billings from her own client in pursuit of an objectively baseless legal position?

When does foolhardy optimism combined with zealous advocacy cross the line?

Please comment below.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, Spencer K. Hunter, and in no way represent the position of the Firm where Mr. Hunter practices or any client represented by Mr. Hunter.