Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No Expert, No Malpractice Case

The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the defendant in a legal malpractice case. The court concluded that the absence of expert testimony was fatal to the claims:

Davis [the former client] claims Enget and Slorby [the lawyers] were negligent by representing him in a field of law beyond their expertise, by inadequately preparing for trial, by failing to secure relevant medical evidence and by failing to notify him of his lost appeal to this Court until after the time to petition for rehearing had expired. Davis further alleges that as a result of these shortcomings, defense witnesses were allowed to lie on the stand, his own reputation was tarnished, an adequate record was not preserved for appeal and, ultimately, he lost his medical malpractice action. No competent, admissible evidence in the record supports Davis' claims. Davis opposed Enget's motion for summary judgment with nothing more than his own affidavit. While he may have a firm belief that Enget and Slorby's representation was insufficient, his lay opinion cannot supplant that of an expert because the nature of the alleged errors are not so egregious or obvious that a layperson could perceive them.The district court did not err by granting summary judgment to Enget because Davis failed to provide the district court with expert testimony indicating Enget and Slorby's representation fell below the applicable standard of care. The district court's grant of summary judgment to Enget is affirmed. (citations omitted)

The case against Slorby had been dismissed due to improper service of process. (Mike Frisch)

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