September 6, 2011
Client Has Duty To Read Contract
A law firm that represented a party who built and leased stores to CVS was sued by the client for legal malpractice. The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the law firm.
The court found the clients' failure to review the contracts was contributory negligence:
It is well established in North Carolina that “[o]ne who signs a written contract without reading it, when he can do so understandingly is bound thereby unless the failure to read is justified by some special circumstance.” Although plaintiffstry t o suggest that this rule may be altered when the party has retained an attorney to review the contract, this Court has held otherwise: “[Plaintiff’s] attorney owed her a duty to review and explain to her the legal import and consequences which would result from her executing the Separation Agreement. However, this duty does not relieve her from her own duty to ascertain for herself the contents of the contract she was signing.” (citations omitted)
The court rejected the plaintiffs' contention that "custom and practice" was a special circumstance that negated their durty to read the contracts. The court further found that the plaintiffs failed to identify any negligence. (Mike Frisch)
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