Caprer vs. Nussbaum

Caprer vs. Nussbaum

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

Malpractice threats to accountants are getting worse and worse as time goes on. A recent case, Caprer vs. Nussbaum, increases the risk that CPA’s face.

  • Historically, in order to sue an accountant, you need privity; a relationship with the accountant
  • Privity is based on the 3 prong test:
    • You must be aware, as the accountant, that your financial reports will be used for a particular purpose
    • The plaintiff must be a client, and it must be known that he/she is going to use the reports for a specific purpose
    • The accountant showed, through his or her conduct the understanding that these records would be used for that reason (i.e. a meeting, a delivery, etc.).
  • If no privity can be established, one can only sue under a stronger standard of proof for fraud.
  • The Caprer vs. Nussbaum case brings a new way that an accountant can be sued:
    • If your client agreed to give the financial records to a third party (bank, credit agency, etc.), that agreement works as evidence that the third party can sue the accountant on a breach of contract for failing to perform properly
    • This can make the privity test irrelevant.

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