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Million Dollar Verdict in Malpractice Suit

On Friday, March 2, 2012, a jury in New York City Civil Court awarded our client, Jose Borges, $1.19 million in damages against his former immigration attorney, Alfred Placeres. The name of the case in Borges v. Placeres, Civil Court Index Number TS-530-04. The Law Office of Paul O’Dwyer, P.C. represented Mr. Borges.

The case arose from claims that Mr. Placeres had allowed a “notario” or non-attorney to falsely claim that she was Placeres’ paralegal, and to do all of the work on Mr. Borges’ case, including preparing all of his immigration forms and immigration court papers, forging Placeres’ signature on those forms, and repeatedly advising Mr. Borges that he did not need to attend his immigration court hearing. As a result, Mr. Borges was ordered deported in his absence, lost his job as an engineer, was detained in immigration custody for over 400 days, and had a nervous breakdown. When Mr. Borges tried to complain about him, Placeres altered some of the immigration documents that had been filed, to make it seem as if he, and not the notario, was the one who had done all of the work on the case. This, of course, made it far more difficult for Mr. Borges to reopen his deportation order, although we were eventually successful at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in Borges v. Gonzales, 402 F.3d 398 (3rd Cir 2005). In 2006, Mr. Borges finally obtained permanent residence, many years late.

We then sued the notario and Mr. Placeres; the case against the notario was earlier dismissed (based on the statute of limitations and corporate immunity), and the case against Placeres went to trial in late February. After a five day trial, during which Placeres did not deny any of the allegations, the jury found that he had committed legal malpractice, and awarded Mr. Borges $1.19 million in damages for his lost income, additional legal fees, and pain and suffering because of his incarceration.

We assume that Placeres will appeal.