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Steer Clear

Q: "In 2015, a local attorney hired me to appraise a 6 unit apartment building. The property was owned by a partnership made up of 3 men, let's call them A, B, and C. My client said the partners were going to sell the property because the managing was becoming too time consuming. They wanted an appraisal to get a better idea of a listing price. I did the report, got paid, and all was good.

Today I got an email from a new attorney representing partners A and B. The partners got into a fight and A and B want to buy out partner C. They want to hire me as their expert and use my old appraisal as the basis for their buyout of C's interest. Partner C got the former attorney disqualified, the one who originally hired me.

I don't think I can take this on because I did the prior appraisal for the partnership, so I can't now act on behalf of 2 partners in their case against their former third partner, right?"

A: I agree and I am surprised that this new attorney wouldn't realize that before asking you to be an expert in a dispute amongst these former partners. It also sounds like this fight is a contentious one, so it is probably better to steer clear.

It is possible that any of the partners might subpoena you to testify just as a witness and ask you questions about the report that you did prepare in 2015. You have to comply with a subpoena, just as if it were a court order. You do not have to testify about anything outside the scope of your report. If you do get served with a subpoena, please let me know and we can discuss your obligations, in further detail, at that time.


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