Is It Correct for a Counsel to Represent Both the Driver and Passenger of a Vehicle Which Is Involved In An Accident ?
In Sidor v. Zuhoski (261 AD2d 529 [2d Dept 1999]), an attorney attempted to represent both the estate of a mother driver and an infant passenger as simultaneous plaintiffs.
The Court affirmed the removal of counsel from continuing to represent both plaintiffs: "under New York law, because a child may properly bring an action against his or her parents, it is improper for an attorney to represent both the parents and the child in an automobile accident action brought against the owner and driver of the other vehicle." (Supra, at 530.)
In addition, the court finds the wisdom of Fugnitto v. Fugnitto (113 Misc 2d 666 [App Term, 2d Dept 1982]) especially persuasive.
In Fugnitto, a car driven by Patricia Fugnitto, in which her infant son was a passenger, was involved in an intersection collision with another automobile.
Mrs. Fugnitto commenced an action individually and on behalf of her infant son.
Upon trial of the liability issue, a single attorney represented both Mrs. Fugnitto and her infant son as plaintiffs.
The court held that an objection to the dual representation in this case could not be considered timely, as it was not raised before appeal.
Nevertheless, the court stated that, "we emphatically disapprove the representation by counsel of both the driver and the passenger of a vehicle ... had a timely motion to disqualify been made, our conclusion in this case might well have been different." (Supra, at 669.)