The Southeast Texas Record recently reported on a businessman from Texas that is pursuing a legal malpractice claim against a firm out of Houston. The legal malpractice claim alleges the firm was negligent in its representation of the client and that this negligence resulted in millions of dollars in damages.
More on the suit
Essentially, one business was considering suing another over a contract agreement. Before moving forward with the suit, the business owner hired an attorney to review the contract. The contract contained an agreement not to sue, but the attorney claimed the business owner could move forward regardless of the provision. The attorney allegedly also claimed the owner would not be personally liable if the lawsuit fell through.
The court, ultimately, found differently. In addition to upholding the agreement not to sue, the court also held the business owner individually liable for the costs of the lawsuit. As a result, the business owner received a judgment to personally pay almost two million dollars.
Ethical duties of attorneys
The client now argues the attorney failed to meet his ethical duty to offer competent representation, a requirement in Texas. As a result, he has filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against the firm.
The American Bar Association, a group of legal professionals, defines legal malpractice as an act that is taken by an attorney that is negligent or wrongfully executed that leads to a financial loss for the client. There are a variety of types of legal malpractice but the most common form is negligence. Negligence can occur in many situations, including a failure to properly pursue a case or meet court deadlines.
The client's claim in the above case will likely be supported by the fact that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the attorney misread an addendum within the contract. This addendum was used by the court to uphold the validity of the agreement not to sue.
Pursuing a legal malpractice claim
Negligence is only one form of legal malpractice. Additional forms can include fraud or a breach of fiduciary duty to the client. Those considering pursuing a legal malpractice lawsuit should also be aware that there is a two year statute of limitations to bring these cases in Texas.
Although a variety of methods can be used to establish that an attorney committed malpractice, generally a victim must prove the lawyer owed a duty, breached the duty and that the breach lead to an injury that caused damages. As a result, the victim also needs to establish that the case likely would have been successful but for the failures of the attorney.
If you believe that you are the victim of legal malpractice, contact an experienced Texas legal malpractice attorney. This legal professional will be able to review your case and help determine the best course of action.