Legal Malpractice Law Review

Legal Malpractice Law Review

Research, resources & expertise in the law governing lawyers

Category Archives: Cases & Materials

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Texas | Implied Relationship | Lawyer Malpractice | Privity |Contract Breach|

Posted in Discovery Rule, Privity, Texas
Sotelo v. Stewart, 281 S.W.3d. 76 (Tex App. 2008) TX: Underlying Contract law Student contributor: David Yanoff Facts:  Defendant had represented plaintiff’s husband in a breach of contract action. The husband had signed a contract to purchase real property in 1991, to which plaintiff was not a party. When he defaulted, a judgment of $82,000… Continue Reading

NH: Legal Malpractice: The Innocent Guilty Plea (???)

Posted in Criminal Law, New Hampshire, Proximate Cause
Hilario v. Reardon, 158 N.H. 56 (2008). NH: Underlying Criminal Procedure, Guilty Plea Student Contributor: Peter J. Jannace FACTS: Plaintiff was indicted on various charges; he then entered into a plea arrangement with the State which provided that if he met certain conditions, including cooperating in other prosecutions, the State would petition for the suspension… Continue Reading

VT: Legal Malpractice On Malice and Punitive Damages

Posted in Damages, Vermont
DeYoung v. Ruggiero, 185 Vt. 267 (2009). VT: Wills, Trusts & Estates Student Contributor: Peter J. Jannace FACTS: Plaintiffs hired defendant to close on the purchase of a house in Vermont. Plaintiffs later inherited a substantial amount; due to a communication breakdown between the decedent and the plaintiffs, plaintiffs hired defendant to ensure that plaintiffs… Continue Reading

NY: Legal Malpractice for Failure to Cancel a Real Estate Contract?

Posted in Damages, New York, Proximate Cause
Bells v. Foster, 83 A.D.3d 876, 922 N.Y.S.2d 124 (2011) NY: Underlying Real Estate Contract Cancellation Student Contributor: Alexis Trezza Facts: Defendant represented plaintiff in a real estate action. Plaintiff (purchaser) entered into a contract for the sale of certain real property. She was given forty-five days in which to secure a mortgage. In the… Continue Reading

NC: Failure to Mitigate is Not Contributory Negligence

Posted in Mitigation of Damages, North Carolina
Hummer v. Pulley, Watson, King & Lischer, P.A., 140 N.C. App. 270, 536 S.E.2d. 349 (2000) NC: Employment law Student contributor: David Yanoff Facts:    Plaintiff was a “career status teacher” in a public school. After an incident with the principal (an argument where plaintiff insisted he did nothing wrong) in which plaintiff was threatened… Continue Reading

NC: Lawyer Immune from Malpractice Suit When Client was a Guilty Criminal

Posted in North Carolina, Proximate Cause
Belk v. Cheshire, 159 N.C. App. 325, 583 S.E.2d 700 (2003) NC: Underlying criminal defense matter Student Contributor: Nicholas Kingsbury Facts: Plaintiff hired an attorney to represent him in his federal charges of gambling and money laundering. As per an agreement the attorney reached with the federal prosecutor, the plaintiff would plead guilty, and forfeit… Continue Reading

NJ: Legal Malpractice: Exception to the Entire Controversy Doctrine

Posted in Entire Controversy Doctrine, Litigation, New Jersey, Torts/Personal Injury
Donohue v. Kuhn, 696 A.2d 664 (N.J. 1997)  NJ Underlying case: tort/personal injury/wrongful death Student Contributor: John Anzalone Facts: Plaintiffs retained Defendant attorney to represent them in a wrongful death and survivorship suit. The attorney failed to file the cases during the applicable  time period.   Plaintiffs secured another attorney after the statute of limitations… Continue Reading

NY: No Damages, no Cause of Action

Posted in Case Within a Case, New York
Brodeur v. Hayes, 18 A.D.3d 979, 795 N.Y.S.2d 761 (2005) NY: underlying suit on  personally guaranteed notes  Student Contributor: Alexis Trezza Facts: Defendant and his law firm represented plaintiff and his various businesses for many years. Plaintiff had personally guaranteed several notes and mortgages on a piece of property that he used for his business.… Continue Reading

US Supreme Court: Patent Based Legal Malpractice Cases Belong in State Court!

Posted in Case Within a Case, Federal
Gunn v. Minton, __ 568 U.S. ___ (February 20, 2013)  Underlying Case: Legal Malpractice based on patent law A MAJOR DEVELOPMENT  From the Syllabus of the Decision:  "No matter how the state courts resolve the hypothetical “case within a case,” the real-world result of the prior federal patent litigation will not change. Nor will allowing… Continue Reading

NC: Employer Can Not Touch Worker’s Award Money from Legal Malpractice Lawsuit

Posted in North Carolina, Statute of Limitations
Grant Construction Co. v. McRae, 146 N.C. App. 370, 553 S.E.2d 89 (2001) NC: Underlying personal injury matter Student Contributor: Nick Kingsbury Facts: Grant Construction’s worker was hurt on the job after a subcontractor left a dangerous condition on the site. The worker hired an attorney to represent him in his Workers Compensation case and… Continue Reading

NY: Insurer Sues Assigned Attorney for Malpractice

Posted in Insurance, New York, Privity
Kumar v. Am. Transit Ins. Co., 854 N Y.S.2d 274, 275 (App. Div. 4th 2008). NY: Underlying Insurance Case. Student Contributor: Le-el D. Sinai Facts: Plaintiffs sued defendant Hiscock attorneys and the insurance company (American Transit Insurance Company, or “American”) for assigning the defendant to plaintiffs underlying case. American commenced a third-party action, alleging that… Continue Reading


Posted in Damages, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
Professional Malpractice: Recovering Damages in Legal Malpractice Cases: An Update on What Type of Award, and How Much a Client Can Expect (New Jersey Law Journal, January 21, 2013).    In the quickly evolving field of lawyer malpractice, one area that seems to get less attention than others is compensable damages. The question is: What… Continue Reading

CA: Actual value of the claim, not the possible value of the claim.

Posted in California, Damages
Loube v. Loube, 64 Cal. App. 4th 421, 74 Cal. Rptr. 2d 906 (1998) CA: Partnership Law Student Contributor: Louis Dell Facts: Plaintiff’s hired law firm to bring an action against general partners in a real estate partnership. The plaintiff’s received a default judgment against the general partners exceeding $500,000. The partners filed a motion… Continue Reading

CA: Statute of Limitations tolled until client discovers or should discover cause of action for attorney malpractice

Posted in California, Discovery Rule
Neel v. Magana, Olney, Levy, Cathcart & Gelfand, 6 Cal. 3d 176, 491 P.2d 421 (1971) CA: Tort Law Student Contributor: Louis Dell Facts: Plaintiffs hired an attorney to represent their wrongful death action against San Bernardino County. The attorney, without informing the plaintiffs, associated as counsel another law firm. Neither the original or new… Continue Reading

NY: Continuous representation may trump three-year statute of limitations

Posted in Cases & Materials, Labor & Employent, Litigation, New York, Statute of Limitations
Aaron v. Roemer, Wallens & Mineaux, LLP, et al., Defendants, and Zahnleuter, 272 A.D.2d 752, 707 N.Y.S.2d 711 (2000) NY: underlying employment discrimination action Student Contributor: Alexis Trezza Facts: Plaintiff Steven L. Aaron was the defendant in two consolidated Federal sexual harassment suits. Defendant law firm Roemer, Wallens & Mineaux, or RWM (with defendant Richard… Continue Reading

PA: One Giant Step for Legal Mal Plaintiffs in Pennsylvania

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Commercial, Damages, Defenses, Pennsylvania
Coleman v. Duane Morris, LLP (Superior Court of PA–Nov. 13, 2012) Underlying Matter: PA stock sale agreement to avoid personal tax liability; alleged breach of retainer contract claim for legal malpractice. Facts: Plaintiffs held ownership interests in two companies, BCA Management Inc. and BCA Professional Services, Inc. By 2006, the companies owed over $2 million… Continue Reading

KY: Judge As a Witness Is Permitted

Posted in Expert Witnesses
Payton v. Clay, 2005-CA-000573-MR, 2007 WL 79711 (Ky. Ct. App. Jan. 12, 2007) (Unpublished opinion available on Westlaw.  KY: Underlying Business Law Student Contributor: Louis Dell Facts: Payton was involved in the business of preparing tax forms. He was sued by Holland to enforce a franchise agreement and a non-compete agreement. Payton hired Clay to… Continue Reading

WV: Must have “joint venture” in order for local counsel to be vicariously liable

Posted in Ohio, Vicarious Liability, West Virginia
Armor v. Lantz, 207 W. Va. 672 (2000) WV: Torts – Products Liability Student Contributor: Rachel Vincent Facts: Clients brought legal malpractice action against attorney who acted as local counsel in products liability litigation. Plaintiffs were involved in a car accident in West Virginia on June 3, 1991. In 1993 plaintiffs filed action against Michelin… Continue Reading

N.J. An “Unpublished” Primer on Damages and Attorney Fees in Legal Malpractice Actions

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Damages, New Jersey, Real Estate
Nix v. Verp, NJ App Div 2-18-2011 (Not approved for Publication). Underlying matter:  NJ Real estate closing; inappropriate title search resulting in legal malpractice action Ed. Note: We tend to diminish the value of unpublished decisions because of their limited precedential value. But make no mistake. As a means of getting a quick primer on… Continue Reading

NJ: Reasonableness of Attorneys Fees Requires Expert Testimony

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Commercial, New Jersey
Brach, Eichler, etc. v. Ezekwo, 345 N.J. Super. 1 ( App. Div. 2001) NJ: Underlying contract cases Student Contributor: Le-el D. Sinai Facts: Defendant client retained attorney plaintiff to represent her in several attempts to get medical board certification and in disputes with insurance companies. The attempts to get  certification were unsuccessful. The attorney and… Continue Reading

NY: No Non-Pecuniary Damages for Botched Criminal Defense

Posted in Damages, New York
Dombrowski v. Bulson, 19 N.Y.3d 347, 948 N.Y.S.2d208 (Ct.of Appeals, 2012)  NY: Underlying Criminal Defense; Ineffective Assistance of Counsel FACTS: Plaintiff convicted in New York of attempted rape and endangering the welfare of a child. His motion to vacate the conviction on the grounds of "ineffective assistance of counsel" is denied without a hearing. Plaintiff… Continue Reading