In a ruling October 3, 2022, Patterson Law Firm defeated defendants’ efforts to get a legal malpractice case dismissed, for the second time. Defendants moved to dismiss the claim on the basis that the statue of limitations had expired before the claim was filed. The plaintiff claimed that the attorneys representing it in a lawsuit with a former business partner committed malpractice by not moving the court for an injunction to keep the partner from taking all the funds from an account containing partnership proceeds. By the time the lawsuit was over, the money was long gone.
Defendants moved to dismiss the case arguing the statute of limitations for malpractice had run out before the case was filed. The Court recited the standard applied to determine when the clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations for a malpractice claim: when the plaintiff knows or reasonably should know both that an injury has occurred and that it was wrongfully caused. The court then held that questions of fact existed as to when the plaintiff became aware that its injury was caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendants. The issue was whether the plaintiff knew that the failure to protect partnership funds with an injunction injured it and that the injury was wrongfully caused. The Court denied the motion to dismiss.
The defendants, refusing to take no for an answer, filed a motion to reconsider citing no new facts or law. The Court denied the motion to reconsider. It observed that injury and knowledge that the injury was wrongfully caused are two separate prongs of the test to determine when a claim for malpractice accrued. The questions framed by the Court were whether the plaintiff suffered an injury more than two years before filing its complaint and, if so, whether that injury was so clearly wrongfully caused that the plaintiff should have known that defendants were partly responsible for that injury. The Court then concluded that there were questions of fact regarding these issues that prevented granting the motion to reconsider the denial of the motion to dismiss.
If you have questions about the statute of limitations in legal malpractice actions, please contact Kristi Browne at firstname.lastname@example.org