Nobel Prize Winner Claims Professional Negligence By His Lawyer Forced Him To Lose Some Of His Award Money In Divorce

Jury selection began today in Federal Court in Washington, D.C. for a case involving Nobel Prize award money.  Prior to winning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001, Joseph Stiglitz hired a divorce attorney.  Stiglitz is now suing his former attorney for $1 million for professional negligence, which he claims resulted in him having to share a portion of the $300,000 prize money with his ex-wife.        

Stigler claims that in 2000, around the time he hired attorney Rita M. Bank, he was contemplating filing for divorce in Washington D.C. against his second-wife, Jane Hannaway.  According to Stigler, he made it clear to Bank that he might potentially win the prize and that he was concerned about losing his future earnings in the divorce.  Despite his concerns, Bank convinced him to attempt to settle with Hannaway instead of filing divorce papers in Washington, D.C.  Stigler claims that Bank intentionally did not disclose to him that she had previously consulted with Hannaway. 

Later, in 2002, Bank advised Stigler that she was leaving her current position to join a firm that was already representing Hannaway, and could therefore no longer represent Stigler due to the conflict of interest involved. The complaint states that Hannaway found out “weeks, perhaps months” earlier, and proceeded to file divorce papers in New York.  Unlike Washington D.C., state law in New York allows a party in a divorce proceeding to make a claim on a spouse’s future earnings.  According to Stigler, Bank’s delay in filing the divorce papers resulted in his ex-wife being awarded some of the prize money in the divorce.

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