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Legal Malpractice

[03/27] Tanedo v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board
The denial of a motion for immunity from liability under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, ("those who petition any department of the government for redress are generally immune from statutory liability for their petitioning conduct"), is not immediately appealable, nor does the court have pendent appellate jurisdiction over the Noerr-Pennington issue, so the appeal is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

[02/28] Mitchell v. Lyons Professional Services, Inc.
Judgment denying plaintiff's motion to execute a monetary judgment entered, as a sanction for plaintiff's attorney misconduct, is vacated and remanded, where although the district court had more than an adequate basis to sanction plaintiff's counsel and accorded the required procedural safeguards, further findings are needed to support a sanction that falls entirely on the clients rather than principally on the lawyer.

[02/20] Gunn v. Minton
28 U.S.C. section 1338(a), which provides federal district courts with exclusive jurisdiction over patent cases, does not deprive the state courts of subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claim alleging legal malpractice in the handling of his patent case because the legal malpractice claim does not arise under federal patent law, where: 1) resolution of a federal patent question is "necessary" to plaintiff's case; 2) the federal issue of the experimental-use exception is also "actually disputed" here; but 3) the federal issue in this case is not substantial in the relevant sense; and 4) there is no serious federal interest in claiming the advantages thought to be inherent in a federal forum.

[01/28] Silas v. Arden
Jury verdict for plaintiff on her malicious prosecution claim against defendant-attorney who sued her for legal malpractice is affirmed, where: 1) case holding that the one-year statute of limitations period of Code of Civil Procedure section 340.6(a) applied to malicious prosecution actions against an attorney does not apply retroactively, where plaintiff's reliance on a two-year statute was manifestly reasonable; and 2) the verdict was supported by substantial evidence.

[01/25] In re Payne
In appeal by attorney of Committee on Admissions and Grievances findings of misconduct and recommendation for public reprimand, recommendation is adopted, where: 1) the Court does not find error in the majority of the Committee's findings of misconduct and defers to its assessment of credibility although the record does not contain clear and convincing evidence that Payne had intentionally prejudiced or damaged his clients but instead neglected legal matters entrusted to him; 2) arguments not raised to the Committee are barred; and 3) Payne's misconduct was sufficiently egregious to warrant a public reprimand.

[01/16] Carolina Casualty v. L.M. Ross Law Group
In coverage action for declaratory relief and reimbursement arising out of payment by plaintiff-insurer to settle a legal malpractice claim against defendant, trial court's grant of motion to amend judgment to include defendant Ross as an individual debtor, along with defendant Ross Law Group, is affirmed, where: 1) the trial court's finding that Ross Law Group dissolved and ceased to operate as a limited liability partnership in September 2006 is supported by substantial evidence; 2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in amending the judgment to add defendant Ross as a debtor because substantial evidence supports the finding that Ross as an individual, actively participated in and controlled the litigation on behalf of Ross Law Group; and 3) the order does not interfere with statutory protections for partners in limited liability partnerships.

[01/03] People v. Stender
In appeal challenging preliminary injunction requiring defendants lawyer and law firm to provide notice to certain clients that another lawyer who had been employed by the firm had resigned from the bar with disciplinary charges pending and was not authorized to practice law, judgment is affirmed, where: 1) rules governing attorneys' obligations upon resignation from the Bar apply to law corporations; 2) the resigned attorney expressly agreed to send notices, return property and refund unearned fees; 3) the trial court's finding that defendants aided and abetted the resigned attorney's unauthorized practice of law was amply supported; 4) the City is not trying to regulate the practice of law, but to prevent unlawful business practices; 5) declarations by clients amply support the court's determination that there was a probability the People would succeed on the merits of their claims; and 6) it is not apparent how clients' confidential information would be necessary to defend against the People's claims.

[11/20] Filbin v. Fitzgerald
In plaintiffs' legal malpractice suit against their former attorney, arising from an underlying eminent domain proceeding, trial court's award of more than half a million dollars in favor of the plaintiffs for the malpractice committed by their attorney prior to the eventual settlement, and an award of over $240,000 in favor of the attorney for the quantum meruit value of his services is: 1) reversed as to the judgment against the attorney as there is no causal nexus between the attorney's representation and the plaintiffs' subsequent decision to settle; and 2) affirmed as to quantum meruit award.

[10/25] Chodos v. Cole
In an action for indemnification of malpractice award between attorneys, arising from a marital dissolution and related proceedings, trial court's grant of defendant's motion to strike pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute is reversed and remanded where: 1) the claim does not involve activity protected by the anti-SLAPP statute; and 2) plaintiff did not have to supply a reporter's transcript of the argument before the trial court because the trial court stated that it relied only on the papers submitted and none of the parties relies on anything that occurred during that argument.

[10/23] In the Matter of Peter J. Galasso
In disciplinary proceeding against an attorney for various misconduct, including allegations that he failed to properly supervise the firm's bookkeeper resulting in misappropriation of client funds and that he breached his fiduciary duty by failing to safeguard those funds, the order of the Appellate Division is modified to dismiss the charge for failing to timely comply with the Grievance Committee's lawful demands for information where the imposition of this separate charge is unsupported by the record.

[10/10] Wyly v. Weiss
Following the approval of a federal class action settlement, the District Court's judgment enjoining a state court action for legal malpractice directed at counsel for the plaintiff class is affirmed where: 1) the "in aid of jurisdiction" exception to the Anti-Injunction Act cannot form the basis for the injunction of the state court action, because the limited circumstances in which the injunction of an in personam action may be appropriate "in aid of" the court’s jurisdiction are not present in this case; but 2) the injunction of the state court action was proper under the "relitigation" exception to the Anti-Injunction Act, since the award of attorneys' fees in the class action precludes a subsequent malpractice action where, as here, the parties had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the reasonableness of counsel's representation.

[07/31] Post v. St. Paul Travelers Ins. Co.
In an attorney's suit against his legal malpractice insurer claiming, inter alia, insurance bad faith and breach of contract, the district court's grant of summary judgment in defendant's favor on the bad faith claim is affirmed, as because the defendant performed what appears to be an adequate investigation, and because the sanctions exclusion in the policy provided it a reasonable basis for denying coverage, defendant did not engage in insurance bad faith. However, district court's damage award for breach of contract is vacated and remanded for a recalculation of the amount of fees and expenses incurred by plaintiff that are to be reimbursed by defendant.

[07/18] Croucier v. Chavos
In a legal malpractice suit arising from an underlying business lawsuit, trial court's decision sustaining defendant's demurrer to the first amended complaint and dismissal of the action is affirmed, as the one-year statute of limitations period precludes plaintiffs' suit.

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