Forbes v. St. Martin Reversed
May 27, 2014 § 10 Comments
Back in March, 2013, the COA reversed a chancellor’s ruling that granted summary judgment in favor of a Louisiana lawyer in a legal malpractice claim based primarily on a claim of breach of attorney-client fiduciary duties. The COA’s ruling in Forbes v. St. Martin was the subject of a post on this blog.
The MSSC, on May 22, 2014, reversed the COA’s ruling, reinstating and affirming the chancellor’s grant of summary judgment in the case.
If you do any contingent fee work, you should read this opinion. Also, Justice Lamar, for the majority, includes an interesting exposition on the principle that a lawyer’s violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct in and of itself does not necessarily give rise to a cause of action for malpractice against the lawyer.
In my 2013 post, I spelled out how fractured the COA was in its vote. Here’s what the MSSC’s looked like:
WALLER, C.J., KITCHENS AND KING, JJ., CONCUR. KITCHENS, J., SPECIALLY CONCURS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY LAMAR AND KING, JJ.; WALLER, C.J., JOINS IN PART. DICKINSON, P.J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY CHANDLER AND COLEMAN, JJ. COLEMAN, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY DICKINSON, P.J., AND CHANDLER, J. RANDOLPH, P.J., AND PIERCE, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
So it was: Lamar, Waller, King and Kitchens for the majority; Dickinson, Chandler and Coleman in the minority; and Randolph and Pierce on the sidelines.
As I have said in both of these posts, there are many ethical and professionalism overtones in this case that you may find helpful, especially in the current trend in which others pore over lawyers’ work after the fact looking to discover anything actionable.