Thursday, November 19, 2009
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of summary judgment to a lawyer in a legal malpractice case brought pro se by the former client. The lawyer had been retained to pursue an employment discrimination claim. The case was dismissed when he failed to respond to the employer's motion for summary judgment.
The client then sued for maplractice but was unable to designate an expert witness on the standard of care. The trial court concluded that the client could not establish that the lawyer's negligence had lost the case (the client had testified in deposition that, among other things, he had "threatened to pour hot oil on one of his subordinate employees" and called another a "stupid little girl").
The court here remanded on a contract claim to consider damages for the lawyer's failure to do the work for which he had been paid. The court also noted that the attorney had been subject to a private admonition with terms in Virginia and sent that matter to Bar Counsel to consider reciprocal discipline. (Mike Frisch)