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Would you like Claudia to manage your liability concerns?

Judicial Appraiser Panels: Balancing Opportunity and Liability

Q: " An attorney I've collaborated with before now serves as a referee for the local court. She reached out to me, asking if I'd like to be considered for a panel of appraisers that judges can select from when they need appraisers to resolve disputes in court. From what she explained, it seems like the judge would be my client, and both parties involved in the dispute would have to agree beforehand to abide by my appraisal.

I was honored by her recommendation and considering the slow pace of work, I'm inclined to accept the offer and see where it leads. However, I wanted to discuss any potential liability concerns with you with respect to do this kind of work."

A: Actually, this would be a good opportunity for you from a liability perspective as long as you are retained by the Judge. In that situation, you would likely have some type of quasi immunity. Typically, as you said, the disputing parties, such as a husband and wife, agree that the Judge will hire an appraiser and that they will both be bound by whatever value is reflected in the appraisal report. In most cases, the appraisal is completed and the dispute is resolved. Unfortunately, every once in a while, one of the parties decides they want to back out of the deal. Since they have probably signed an agreement saying they can’t back out, sometimes they decide to sue the appraiser claiming the report caused them to suffer a loss. In the handful of cases when that has occurred, we have been successful in getting the appraiser dismissed from the case very quickly by arguing that they had immunity because they were acting on behalf of the Judge in the underlying matter and they owed no duty to either of the parties to the dispute.

Would you like Claudia to manage your liability concerns?