Gans v. Mundy, 762 F.2d 338 (3d Cir. 1985)

Underlying PA Tort Action

Student Contributor: Colleen Gaedcke

Facts: The appellant suffered injuries while commuting to work on a public bus. The appellant retained the appellee to represent him in the underlying action. The appellees filed suit against Amtrak but not against the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportations Authority (SEPTA). After the suit was filed the appellant returned to work and sustained yet another injury. The appellant obtained different counsel to represent him because he was dissatisfied with the appellees representation during settlement negotiations. The appellants new counsel amended the original complaint to add a second count of negligence against Amtrak for the appellants second injury. The case went to trial and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense on both counts. The appellant then sued the appellees for legal malpractice.

Issue: Whether appellees were obligated to offer expert evidence on the professional standard of care when moving for summary judgment?

The Ruling: No. The court must view the evidence in light of the absence of a proffer of any standard of care in the legal profession.

The Lesson: Where an attorney alleges that their conduct was based on the exercise of skill and knowledge, they do not need to offer expert evidence to establish the standard of care.