The Illinois Supreme Court decided a new opinion regarding the legal malpractice statute of limitations in Suburban Real Estate Services, Inc. v. Carlson. The question before the Court was when the two-year statute of limitations applicable to legal malpractice actions began to run. The underlying situation involved advice regarding a business divorce, with the allegations being that the lawyers failed to properly advise the clients on how to seek a judicial dissolution of the entity and in advising them to engage in actions that were a breach of their fiduciary duties. Litigation that allegedly resulted from the defendant lawyers’ advice ensued. In the legal malpractice case, the defendant lawyers argued that the statute of limitations ran when the judge at the trial level told the plaintiffs that a legal malpractice claim was a certainty and when they discussed malpractice with a legal malpractice lawyer. The clients argued that the statute of limitations did not run until a judgment was entered in the underlying litigation. The Illinois Supreme Court found that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the adverse judgment in the underlying case, noting that if the clients were successful in that case, there would be no legal malpractice cause of action. The Illinois Supreme Court cited other prior cases in which the adverse judgment rule was applied, and distinguished recent cases that have seemingly not followed this rule. Overall, the ruling is one that helps clarify the accrual of the statute of limitations. However, the complexity of the opinion confirms the fact that consulting with a legal malpractice lawyer is critical when a potential legal malpractice case exists, as there are many factors unique to each case which inform the time that the statute of limitations begins to run.
If you have a question about this case or a legal malpractice matter, contact David Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org.