Law Firm Sued for Malpractice Cross-Complained Against Former Lawyer

In Crouse v. Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison (1998) 67 Cal. App. 4th 1509 [80 Cal. Rptr. 2d 94], Division One of the Fourth District held that a successor law firm sued for malpractice by a former client can pursue a cross-complaint for equitable indemnity against the predecessor lawyer who had also been sued by the client, explaining that the usual concerns do not arise when "the subsequent attorney seeks equitable indemnity against the former attorney. The former attorney is not subject to any conflict of interest and has no continuing privileged communications or work product to protect." (Id. at pp. 1545-1546.) In Austin v. Superior Court (1999) 72 Cal. App. 4th 1126 [85 Cal. Rptr. 2d 644], Division Three of the Fourth District held that a lawyer sued for malpractice by his former client may not cross-complain against the client's present lawyer for indemnity. (Austin v. Superior Court, supra, 72 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1129.)