Several weeks ago in this Newark Litigation and Appeals Law Blog, we discussed a legal malpractice lawsuit filed by Tom Berenger. The actor, who may be best known for his roles in “Platoon,” “The Big Chill” and “Major League,” is suing his lawyer for allegedly having him sign a disadvantageous amendment to his prenuptial agreement without even reading it.
The attorney filed a response in court Tuesday, arguing that Berenger had not even hired him to review the terms of the prenuptial agreement. He contended that Berenger asked him only to come to his home quickly one evening so that Berenger could sign the amendment that he and his wife had already negotiated.
The amendment in question entitled Berenger’s then wife to a slice of his previous and future earnings, which she had previously waived, in the case of divorce. It also would award her the right to the actor’s estate after his death. The couple did ultimately split in 2011, and the amendment ended up costing Berenger more than $100,000.
Berenger’s legal malpractice lawsuit states that his attorney came to his home one evening, while he was entertaining friends, and advised him to sign the amendment. He did not suggest changes and should have been acting in the best interest of his client.
However, the lawyer has countered that Berenger and his wife had agreed to the amendment’s terms before the lawyer was ever contacted. He says he was called to Berenger’s home that evening so that Berenger could quickly sign the amendment before leaving the country.
Furthermore, he states that Berenger did read the six-page post-marital agreement and discussed the revisions to the division of assets with his wife present.
Prenuptial agreements and post-marital amendments are legal contracts and they are typically drafted under the counsel of an attorney. It is of the utmost importance that both spouses understand all of the implications of such contracts before signing them.
The outcome of this case remains to be seen, but when lawyers do provide incompetent counsel, it is important that they are held accountable.
Source: islandpacket.com, “Beaufort attorney responds to Berenger’s lawsuit,” Patrick Donohue, July 18, 2012