Archive - Legal Malpractice

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March 29, 2017

Summary Judgment Dismissal

Joel Wright and Marc Rosenberg, with the support of Kellan Byrne and Danielle Rieger, won a summary judgment dismissal in multiparty litigation in Samuelson v. Law Firm in King County Superior Court.  Plaintiffs brought claims of legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, and legal malpractice against an attorney that had represented them as co-personal representatives of an estate.  Plaintiffs alleged that the estate was co-owner of a company, and that the attorney conspired with the other co-owner to pressure them into selling stock in the company for less than it was worth.  Joel and Marc convinced the court that the attorney’s actions were not the proximate cause of any damage to the plaintiffs.  The remaining parties are set to go to trial in April 2017.

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April 20, 2016

Summary Judgment Awarded in Bank Trust

Sam Franklin and William L. Cameron won summary judgment and were awarded their attorneys’ fees in the case of Anderson v. Dussault.  Anderson had sued the bank, which was the trustee; the bank’s attorney, Sam and Bill’s client; and her former attorney for allegedly mismanaging her special needs trust.  The Clallam County Superior Court initially dismissed the case against defendants on the basis of the statute of limitations.  The Supreme Court disagreed, but in remanding the case made it clear that the matter was to be treated under the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act (TEDRA), a position the plaintiff had strongly opposed.  When the defendants again brought a motion for summary judgment, the trial again dismissed the case against all defendants.  Because TEDRA permits a prevailing party to recover its reasonable attorneys’ fees, the court awarded defendants their fees against not only the plaintiff but also her trust.

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March 25, 2016

Summary Judgment Win of Legal Malpractice

Jeff Downer and Pam DeVet won summary judgment in the legal malpractice action Lyons v. Attorney in Lewis County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleged that the attorney’s trial strategy had caused him to lose his underlying case against a former business partner. While generally denying their client had committed any malpractice, Jeff and Pam pointed out that without expert testimony that he had breached the standard of care, plaintiff could not win at trial. Further, plaintiff had filed after the statute of limitations had expired. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed all claims with prejudice.

Lee Smart attorneys have extensive experience in the Areas of Practice shown to the right. Click on one to learn more about our expertise and our attorneys in that practice.

Dismissal of Claims Against Trustee on Deed of Trust

Marc Rosenberg obtained a dismissal of claims against a successor trustee on a deed of trust in Golden v. MTC Financial, et al, King County Superior Court. Plaintiff brought claims against a variety of defendants for wrongful foreclosure, and alleged violations of the Deeds of trust Act and Consumer Protection Act. After Marc filed a dispositive motion, plaintiff’s counsel agreed to dismissal with prejudice, no admission of liability, and with no settlement fee being paid.

Lee Smart attorneys have extensive experience in the Areas of Practice shown to the right. Click on one to learn more about our expertise and our attorneys in that practice.

Dismissal of Claims of Legal Malpractice

Marc Rosenberg obtained a dismissal of claims of legal malpractice, civil conspiracy, conversion, and fraud against an attorney in LaRoche v. Kimball, et al, U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington. The attorney had represented plaintiff in a prior underlying dissolution proceeding. When plaintiff did not receive as much of the estate as she felt was due to her, she brought a legal malpractice claim against her attorney, which was dismissed on summary judgment. She then filed a second lawsuit. On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the district court held that the majority of claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and the remaining claims of fraud and conspiracy were so incredible that dismissal was entered with prejudice and without leave to amend.

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Dismissal of Claims of Negligence and Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Sam B. Franklin and Rosemary J. Moore won partial summary judgment dismissal in a legal malpractice action in King County Superior Court. Plaintiff sued her former attorney, alleging claims of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, after she had agreed to a settlement at mediation of her claims arising from a dissolution. Sam and Rosemary argued to the court that their client had not breached his fiduciary duty and that the plaintiff could not establish the elements of negligence. The court agreed in respect of all but one of the plaintiff’s claims where the court held there was a factual issue precluding dismissal. The court dismissed the remaining negligence claims on summary judgment together with the plaintiff’s claim of breach of fiduciary duty.

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Dismissal of Claims for Unpaid Legal Fees

Jeffrey P. Downer and Daniel C. Mooney won summary judgment dismissal of claims against their clients in Law Firm v. Milutinovic. In this King County District Court action, after the attorney brought an action to recover unpaid legal fees in the underlying family law matter, the former client brought counterclaims for legal malpractice, emotional distress, and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.  Jeff and Dan successfully defeated all the counterclaims, arguing the former client lacked the necessary evidence to support them, and prevailed on the claim for unpaid fees, obtaining a judgment for the full amount of fees plus interest.

Lee Smart attorneys have extensive experience in the Areas of Practice shown to the right. Click on one to learn more about our expertise and our attorneys in that practice.

January 21, 2016

Dismissal of Adversary Complaint for Legal Malpractice

Joel E. Wright and Donna M. Young won a summary judgment dismissing an adversary complaint for legal malpractice in Laysons’ Restoration Inc., v. Sterbick, et.al. in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington. Plaintiff reopened a closed bankruptcy matter to initiate an adversary proceeding asserting legal malpractice claims against the attorneys who had formerly represented the plaintiffs in connection with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The attorneys withdrew during the course of the bankruptcy matter over a fee dispute. During the Chapter 11 proceedings, the plaintiff disputed the attorneys’ fee applications, even alleging legal malpractice, but never sought affirmative relief. Joel and Donna argued that the belated adversary action was barred by res judicata because the same set of operative facts had been litigated and adjudicated when the bankruptcy court ruled on the attorney’s fee application. The bankruptcy court agreed and dismissed the adversary complaint.

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March 11, 2015

Plaintiff Disallowed to Seek Compensation

In Piris v. King County et al., the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s claims of legal malpractice against the defense attorneys who represented the plaintiff in criminal proceedings in the trial court and on appeal.   The plaintiff who pleaded guilty to the crimes at trial complained that the wrong sentencing guidelines had been used and that after his sentence was overturned on appeal the court had failed to set his case for resenting.  He therefore served his original sentence.  Jeff Downer and Rosemary Moore argued that the plaintiff’s claims against his defense attorneys should be dismissed because the plaintiff was unable to prove his actual innocence of the crimes of which he was convicted, and therefore, under Washington  law, he could not seek compensation from his criminal defense attorneys.  Because the actual sentence served was within the correct sentencing guidelines and not outside the maximum permitted by law, the plaintiff’s claim did not fall within a narrow exception to the general rule.  The trial court agreed and dismissed the claim.  On March 9, 2015, Division I of the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

Lee Smart attorneys have extensive experience in the Areas of Practice shown to the right. Click on one to learn more about our expertise and our attorneys in that practice.

February 12, 2015

Sam Franklin and Marc Rosenberg Won Dismissal on Summary Judgment

Sam Franklin and Marc Rosenberg won a dismissal on summary judgment in LaRoche v. Law Firm, a legal malpractice action based on an underlying marital dissolution trial.  The matter was filed in diversity in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.  In a first partial summary judgment motion, the district court dismissed a claim that the law firm breached the standard of care by failing to have a prenuptial agreement set aside, holding that undisputed facts did not support plaintiff’s legal theory of rescission and that the result would have been the same had the argument been made to the underlying trial court.  In a follow up summary judgment motion, the court dismissed most of the remaining claims on the ground that plaintiff’s expert had failed to provide an opinion to support a breach of the standard of care, and then dismissed the remaining claim on the ground that the actions of the client in not seeking from the trial court reimbursement for all of the wife’s attorney fees did not fall below the standard of care, based on the relevant facts and law as set forth by the defense expert, and despite the opinion of plaintiff’s expert otherwise.

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