Network Firm News

Monday, November 26, 2007


On November 9th Corr Cronin attorneys Guy Michelson and Emily Brubaker won a summary judgment motion resulting in the dismissal of a legal malpractice claim against a major Seattle Law firm insured by ACE.

Plaintiff was the sole beneficiary of his father's estate. The law firm represented the personal representative of the estate. Probate proceedings commenced in 1978 when the value of the estate was estimated to be $9.5 million (for estate tax purposes). When probate proceedings finally closed in 2007, little remained to be distributed to the sole beneficiary. Plaintiff alleged that the law firm and the personal representative of the estate conspired to loot the assets of the estate, and otherwise breached their fiduciary obligations. Plaintiff was particularly critical of (a) personal loans from one of the law firm's partners to the estate, (b) the law firm's simultaneous representation of the personal representative of the estate and the estate's sole beneficiary, and (c) transfers of estate real property to the law firm in partial payment of outstanding attorneys fees. Damages were alleged to be in the $5 million to $8 million range.

Despite those inflammatory allegations, the trial court agreed with Corr Cronin's argument that the claims were time-barred, and that the plaintiff knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, of the factual elements giving rise to his claims more than three years prior to filing of the current litigation. The trial court further agreed that reasonable minds could not differ on that issue, and therefore that summary judgment based upon applicable statutes of limitation was appropriate.

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