Teamsters Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers, Local 764 v. Greenawalt, 919 F. Supp. 774 (M.D. Pa. 1996)
PA Underlying labor dispute.
Student Contributor: Colleen Gaedcke
Facts: The plaintiff, a union, sued the defendant, former union counsel, for legal malpractice for allegedly improperly advising the former union president and co-defendant to collect a severance pay. According to union by-laws, union officers are not supposed to get severance, however the plaintiffs argue that the defendant got a severance pay in the form of a car. The defendant used the car during his assignment as union president, but when he left the defendants allegedly made an arrangement that transferred the car to the defendant in exchange for the car’s fair market fault payable to the union.
Issue: Whether the plaintiff’s suit was timely filed?
Ruling: No. The plaintiff’s cause of action accrued more than two years prior to them filing the action therefore their action is time-barred.
1.) Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for a legal malpractice claim is two years.
2.) “A cause of action accrues under Pennsylvania law and the limitations period begins to run when ‘the plaintiff knows, or reasonably should know, 1) that he has been injured, and 2) that his injury has been caused by another party’s conduct.’”
3.) Here, the plaintiffs were aware of some potential wrong doing as early as September of 1991 however they failed this action in December of 1993. Thus, the “plaintiff unreasonably and unjustifiably waited too long to file this action.”
Lesson: In Pennsylvania, an attorney cannot be sued for legal malpractice where the alleged malpractice occurred more than two years prior to the date the action was filed.