Legal Malpractice Law Review

Legal Malpractice Law Review

Research, resources & expertise in the law governing lawyers

Category Archives: Family Law

Subscribe to Family Law RSS Feed

CT: Filing the Same Bad Claim Twice Gets Your Claim Booted From Court

Posted in Connecticut, Family Law
Ross v. Forzani, 88 Conn. App. 365, 869 A.2d 682 (2005) CT: Underlying marriage dissolution matter Student Contributor: Nicholas Kingsbury Facts: Plaintiff retained a law firm to represent him in his marriage dissolution. One of the partners defected from that firm, and subsequently represented plaintiff’s wife in the marriage dissolution. Plaintiff asserted that the defecting… Continue Reading

NY: To Prevail on Summary Judgment, Defendant Attorney Must Show That Plaintiff Is Unable To Prove Any of the Required Elements in a Legal Malpractice Case

Posted in Family Law, New York, Real Estate
Ehlinger v. Ferlazzo, PC, 304 AD 2d 925 (3rd Dept. 2003) NY: Underlying Divorce Action Student Contributor: Mordechai Goldenberg Facts: Plaintiff retained defendants to represent him in a divorce action against his wife. One of the disputed issues in the action was ownership of certain real property titled solely in wife’s name. Plaintiff claimed an… Continue Reading

NY: Client Barred from Raising Malpractice Claim Twice Because of Res Judicata

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Conflicts of Interest, Damages, Family Law, New York
Montalbano, Condon, & Frank, PC v. Rodi, 54 A.D.3d 1012 (App. Div. 2d Dept. 2008) NY: Client subsequently barred from raising issues it failed to raise in first malpractice dispute. Student Contributor: Jared Levy Facts: The plaintiff law firm represented the defendant in the underlying matrimonial action. The defendant did not pay for the legal… Continue Reading

NY: Agreeing that Fees are Reasonable as a Condition to Representation

Posted in Family Law, New York
Landa v. Blocker, 87 A.D.3d 719, 928 N.Y.S.2d 779 (App.Div. 2d Dep’t 2011) NY Underlying Matrimonial Student Contributor: Richard Sadowski Facts: The plaintiff, an attorney, represented the defendant in her divorce. The plaintiff commenced this action to recover the legal fees charged in the matrimonial action based on the theory of an account stated. The… Continue Reading

NJ: Affidavit of Merit? Better Safe then Sorry.

Posted in Expert Witnesses, Family Law, New Jersey, Standard of Care
Prosser v. Zeldin, 2010 WL 5392707 NJ: Underlying Divorce; Affidavit of Merit  Student Contributor: Mordechai Buls FACTS: Defendant represented plaintiff in a divorce proceeding for a marriage in which the ceremony was performed in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. In the divorce case Plaintiff claimed that since there was no valid license, the marriage was not legal.… Continue Reading

NJ: The Discovery Rule effect on the Statute of Limitations

Posted in Family Law, New Jersey, Statute of Limitations
Aykan v. Goldzweig, 238 N.J. Super. 389, 569 A.2d 905 (N.J. Super. L. 1989). NJ: Underlying matrimonial action Student Contributor: Laura Binski Facts: The client hired the lawyer to represent her in a matrimonial action, specifically a property distribution agreement and divorce by reason of extreme cruelty and battery. Two weeks after the property settlement… Continue Reading

TX: Malpractice Action Can’t Be Litigated in Previous Suit

Posted in Entire Controversy Doctrine, Family Law, Texas
Ayre v. JD Bucky Allshouse, PC, 942 S.W.2d 24 (Tex. App. Houston 14th Dist. 1996) TX: Underlying divorce action Student Contributor: Megan Diodato Facts:  The malpractice suit arises from a divorce action. The client hired an attorney to enforce a court order against her husband and enjoin his firm in action. The attorney instead negotiated… Continue Reading

NC: Attorney Not Liable in Divorce Action

Posted in Family Law, North Carolina, Standard of Care
Summer v. Allran, 100 N.C.App. 182, 394 S.E.2d 689 (N.C.App. 1990) NC: Underlying separation agreement Student Contributor: Karen Dindayal Facts: Plaintiff, Summer retained defendant William J. Allran to prepare a separation agreement with her ex-husband. Allran prepared three drafts of the agreement, and the parties signed the final draft on February 5, 1982.  A few months… Continue Reading

NY: Suing the Adversary’s Attorney: NO WAY!

Posted in Family Law, New York, Privity
Breen v. Law Office of Bruce A. Barket, P.C., 52 A.D.3d 635, 862 N.Y.S.2d 50 (2nd Dept. 2008) NY: Underlying Divorce Settlement Student Contributor: Daniel Schick Facts: During the course of resolving a divorce action, Eileen (“Plaintiff”), and her former husband, George, executed various stipulations of settlement to resolve their respective equitable distribution claims as… Continue Reading

WA: The Expert Must Be Heard!

Posted in Case Within a Case, Expert Witnesses, Family Law, Litigation, Washington
Aubin v. Barton, 123 Wash. App. 592 (2004) WA: Underlying Divorce Action Student Contributor: Ben Doyle Facts:  Client sued  attorney for malpractice following attorney’s representation in the dissolution of marriage. Client claimed that attorney’s conduct at a settlement conference did not meet the standard of care. Client was the grantee of stock options. Attorney failed… Continue Reading

MD: No Malpractice Immunity for Court Appointed Guardians

Posted in Family Law, Maryland
Fox v. Willis, 390 Md. 620, 890 A.2d 726 (2006) MD: Underlying Divorce Proceeding Student Contributor: Vanessa L. Wachira Facts: Katherine Fox (“Client”) is a minor child whose parents were divorced pursuant to a judgment entered by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. In the subsequent proceedings to determine custody and visitation, the court appointed… Continue Reading

TX: Legal Malpractice Compulsory Counterclaim In Petition for Attorney Fees

Posted in Family Law
Goggins v. Grimes, 969 S.W.2d 135 (Tex. App. 1998). TX: Underlying action for award of attorney fees Student Contributor: Megan Diodato Facts:  The client hired the attorney to represent her in a divorce. The attorney withdrew and filed a petition for her attorney’s fees in the client’s divorce case. The client contested the attorney’s right… Continue Reading

MD: Client Judicially Estopped from Asserting Claim for Malpractice

Posted in Family Law, Maryland
Vogel v. Touhey, 151 Md.App. 682, 828 A.2d 268 (2003) MD: Underlying Divorce Proceeding Student Contributor: Vanessa L. Wachira Facts: In 1999, following the couple’s separation, Dr. Harold Alfert and attorney Karen Vogel (Client) entered into a property settlement agreement that provided for the equal division of their marital assets (valued at approximately two million… Continue Reading

MD: Choose Your Words Wisely: Retainer Agreements Create Contractual Obligations

Posted in Engagement, Family Law, Maryland
Abramson v. Wildman, 184 Md.App.189, 964 A.2d 703 (2009) MD: Underlying Custody Dispute Student Contributor: Vanessa L. Wachira Facts: Ronald Wildman (Client) retained Joel Abramson (Attorney) to advise and represent him in a custody dispute. The retainer agreement informed Client that he could “expect [Attorney’s] firm to be both sensitive and professionally responsive to [his]… Continue Reading

NJ: No Charitable Immunity for Legal Aid Malpractice

Posted in Family Law, New Jersey
James v. Murray, NJ Law Div. (trial court) Docket No. ESX-L-9471-09 (May 17, 2011) NJ Underlying Divorce Facts: Legal Services of NJ provides  free legal representation to indigent litigants. Its revenue comes mostly from  governmental as opposed to private charitable donations.  Plaintiff here was represented by Legal Services in her divorce action.  She was  the… Continue Reading

NY: Hearst Heir in Legal Malpractice Claim Alleges Undue Influence

Posted in Conflicts of Interest, Family Law, New York, Wills Trusts & Estates
Hearst v. Hearst, 50 A.D.3d 959, 857 N.Y.S.2d 596 (App. Div. 2d Dep’t 2008). NY: Underlying divorce case and undue influence claim Student Contributor: Nicole Milone Facts: John Randolph Hearst, Jr. (John) suffered a stroke in 1989. He was married to Barbara in 1990. When Barbara filed for divorce in 2004, John discovered that she… Continue Reading

NY: No Retainer, No Fees?

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Disgorgement of Fees, Engagement, Family Law, New York
Cruciata v. Mainiero, Supreme Court, New York County, January 14, 2011. Facts:  Plaintiff contended that she did not owe Defendant attorney, her former counsel, the legal fees he collected from her in the underlying divorce action since he, allegedly, never provided her with a statutorily compliant retainer agreement.   Issues: Is an attorney entitled to… Continue Reading

NJ: Court Refuses to Apply Common Knowledge Exception, Dismisses Claim for Failure to Provide Affidavit of Merit

Posted in Affidavit/Certificate of Merit, Family Law, New Jersey
Prosser v. Zeldin, NJ App. Div., December 30, 2010. Facts: Plaintiff filed suit against his attorney in the underlying divorce action.  Plaintiff alleged he was "coerced into agreeing" to the divorce settlement and that "[d]uring the entire divorce process [he told Zeldin] that there was nothing in [a] public record that served as a legal document… Continue Reading

GA: Suing for fees: A New Twist?

Posted in Attorneys Fees, Conflicts of Interest, Duties: Conflict Avoidance, Family Law, Georgia
Levine v. Television Cablecasting, Inc., 581 S.E.2d 734 (2003) GA: Underlying divorce action Student Contributor: Farah Shahidpour Facts: Wife inherited title to a farm. She later transferred title to Television Cablecasting (TCI), a company wholly owned by her husband. Wife sues husband for divorce, seeking title to the farm. Husband asked his longtime friend, Attorney… Continue Reading