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The Sins of a Father: Personal Injury Law and Family Issues

I. Agency and Injury

As a Charlotte personal injury attorney has skillfully put it, some cases raise questions of “whether the sins of the son should be visited upon the father.”

In a much bigger way, the following case and discussion also raises issues about how important it is, to talk with a qualified Charlotte personal injury attorney, when you may feel that an employee has wrongfully harmed your interests. It is not automatically certain that the company (or person who hired the potentially negligent employee) can be held liable. Because of the uncertainties in this area of negligence law, this makes it absolutely vital that before any type of company cover-up or loss of relationship occurs, you speak with a personal injury attorney who is familiar with whether an employer is responsible for their employee’s negligence.

As suggested by the introduction, this is especially interesting when there’s a family or personal relationship between the employer or client and wrong-doing employee. These types of personal relationships are often used to conceal wrongdoing, and it often takes an expert personal injury attorney to explain the nature of any coverups. Or in this case, possible “payback” by the company.  It is also important to stress that the special rules that separate civil from criminal proceedings requires the expertise of a Charlotte personal injury attorney, so that any possible criminal actions don’t compromise or undermine crucial civil claims.

II. Throwing the Dice

Unknown to Mr. and Mrs. White, who invested with an account executive at C Company, was that their money was…all gone. The secret was that their account exec – who also happened to be their own child, and a family friend of the company’s owner had a gambling addiction. Early in the 1990s, the son first began to divert retirement funds from the company and its clients into a personal account that he could access for his addiction. By the end of the decade, the sums began to run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars of misappropriated and unaccounted-for funds.

The son began to hide his thefts by forging signatures years before his luck turned. The Charlotte negligence attorney carefully retraced the backtrail of a decade of deceit. It was found that the miscreant had been variously creating bogus accounts, and that he would reassure anyone who asked, that “yes, of course,” he held the funds for the (many defrauded) clients. Ultimately, as the attorney would find out, it was too late to remedy all of these losses, and eventually caused the son’s empire of cards to collapse. The owner naturally was one of the first to learn of the losses. Quickly acting on behalf of the company, he sought in at least some good faith to cover the losses. But, the company owner told only some, not all, of the injured investors about what happened, and the new safeguards and recovery that were being implemented.

The parents of the son were not notified. Thus, the question: had the company decided to visit the sins of the son on the parents?

Because of the delays and uncertainty involved in these types of injuries, the trial court essentially lumped together the many types of claims and dismissed them all from any further proceedings. The personal injury attorney immediately appealed this decision: and it took another five years to straighten out the appropriate rules of negligence in this case. This is not to say that all these problems of trial and appeal could have been avoided. It is, however, an important lesson that any time there is a suspicion of wrongdoing, it often behooves people to act sooner than they are normally inclined to. Of course, this is easier said than done, since these types of injuries are often built upon trust relationships. Yet, it is exactly these kinds of trust relationships that often work better by having a connection with a injury attorney who is also going to make sure the trust is verified, and suspicions unfounded.

III.   Family Secrets and Broken Promises

The personal injury attorney in this case recognized that because the company had failed to notify the Whites of their particular harm, there were many additional issues that could be raised in liability: including negligent hiring, breach of duty, constructive fraud, and what’s called common law conversion. The attorney proved that not only had the company failed to tell the Whites about what happened, they even, incredibly, had allowed the son some continued access to the Whites’ records.

Through painstaking research, the negligence attorney eventually painted evidence that the company’s careless “standard practice was to allow mail addressed to the clients of terminated executives” to simply accumulate, unopened. This hands-off attitude, even after knowing client funds had been raided with bogus accounts, was key to the negligence attorney’s argument. This disregard was negligence on the company’s part, the ultimately successful argument went.

Before this trial however, had come more lies. The son had been allowed to largely continue the farce and even told people that his separation from the company was “amicable and a mutual decision.” He went on to tell his mom and dad, the Whites, that he would continue to manage their accounts even though he’d “left the company.” It was not until well into the new millennium that the Whites found out what had happened and what their son had done. The ultimate cost to his parents was more than $300,000.

IV.  Fighting for Time

As already noted, negligence issues often go shoulder to shoulder with other important legal issues. Associated financial claims are often also very, very time sensitive.  Because of this, it’s an important reason to always work only with an experienced negligence attorney as soon as the first suspicions of harm are “reasonably evident.”  

This case not only had an interesting negligence issue of company motivation, but also issues relating to: fraud, misrepresentation, and possible criminal conduct. With all of these complications, one very common challenge arose in getting the question to court…there are often different statutes of limitations. Some of the issues in this case were lost because the injured person did not seek legal help soon enough. Often, this is hardly the fault of the injured party. They are often the one acting in good faith, and attempting to reach a resolution on what they think are the most important issues. These issues may or may not be based in legal (as opposed to here, emotional) claims. Only an experienced attorney who specializes in these issues and their meaning with other legal claims is objectively capable of making these timely decisions.

Conclusions:   

Fortunately, the experienced personal injury and negligence attorney in this case was able to protect the core of the claim: company negligence and the misrepresentations attached to discovery after the fraud. There were other claims that were lost, as the court reinstated the lawsuit itself. Overall, however, the Charlotte personal injury attorney was largely successful in resuscitating the Whites’ claims against the company and regaining much of their stolen property and losses.

So, if you, a family member or a loved one have been hurt in a professional setting—or have questions about claims, or need help related to personal injury of any kind, or involving harm to your person or interests by someone’s employee, or your representative or trusted adviser, please contact us.  You will speak with a Charlotte personal injury attorney who can best answer your questions.  There is never a fee for this initial consultation.

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