Obermayer Litigation Team Secures Significant Victory for Court-Appointed Child Advocates

July 13, 2020

Bill Leonard was quoted in The Legal Intelligencer in connection with a case in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas that could have strong resonance in future malpractice lawsuits against guardians. In a case of first impression, partners Bill Leonard and Matt Olesh won dismissal of a professional malpractice action against The Defender Association of Philadelphia on grounds of immunity. The case arose out of the Defender’s service as guardian ad litem and child advocate for an infant victim of abuse. The Defender supported placement of the infant in foster care after she suffered three unexplained broken ribs in the first six weeks of her life. After being removed from her family home, the infant suffered no further physical injuries. Nevertheless, she alleged that the Defender intentionally inflicted emotional distress by failing to place her in the care of her Grandmother. The significance of this victory is that guardians/child advocates, serving as court-appointed, quasi-judicial officers, may now advance the best interests of their clients without fear of being sued no matter what they do or how well they turn out.

In his interview with The Legal Intelligencer, Bill stated:

“Lawyers who serve as guardians ad litem and child advocates for dependent children should not be exposed to second-guessing when they decide to support giving care of an infant—in this case, a baby girl who suffered three broken ribs in the first six weeks of her life and was found to be the victim of child abuse—to a foster parent, rather than returning her to the natural parents who never explained what happened to her in the first place.”

Read the full story here. 

Bill has diverse and comprehensive experience in complex commercial disputes, where he serves as trial and appellate counsel. His breadth of litigation experience allows him to advise clients on a variety of legal fronts, adding value to his representations by enabling him to provide clients with guidance in different areas without having to rely on additional consultation. In 15 of the last 17 years, including in 2020, Bill has been named one of “Pennsylvania’s Super Lawyers®,” an honor bestowed on 5% of Pennsylvania lawyers, in both Philadelphia magazine and Thomson Reuters, Legal, “Pennsylvania Super Lawyers.” He has earned an AV ® preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, indicating his preeminent legal ability and very high ethical standards.​

Matt is a partner in Obermayer’s Litigation Department. He concentrates his practice on high-stakes, complex commercial disputes – “bet the company” litigation. His work has ranged from representing companies and their directors/officers in contractual disputes to defeating injunctions of multi-million dollar transactions and projects to defending against consumer class-action lawsuits.

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