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Judges rule legal malpractice claim untimely

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A family who sued an Allen County attorney after finding out he did not properly obtain ownership of a railroad right-of-way in 1995 lost its appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals because the family’s lawsuit is barred by the statute of limitations.

Ronald Felger served as Fred Dickes’ attorney. In 1995, Felger negotiated with the railroad company in order to get a quitclaim deed to transfer ownership of an abandoned railroad right-of-way on Dickes’ property. But the legal description in the deed actually was the legal description for the interurban right-of-way on Dickes’ property, which he already owned.

Dickes died in 2000, and his family discovered through another attorney in 2006 that they didn’t own the abandoned railroad right-of-way and sued Felger and the firm Shambaugh Kast Beck & Williams LLP in 2009 for legal malpractice. Allen Superior Judge Nancy Eshcoff Boyer granted summary judgment to Felger and the firm, citing the two-year-statute of limitations.

Legal malpractice actions are subject to the discovery rule, so the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run until the time the plaintiffs could have discovered they had been injured by Felger’s actions. Because the family filed their suit on March 5, 2009, if their action happened before March 5, 2007, the statute of limitations would bar their claim.

The designated evidence shows the family should have known no later than June 2006 that they did not own the right-of-way based on property tax issues, a letter Felger sent to the family in February 2006, and correspondence with their attorney Terry Cornelius, who discovered that a title search didn’t reveal any deed transfer to Dickes.

“Plaintiffs were aware that, despite the 1995 negotiations with the railroad and the deed, they in fact did not own the abandoned railroad right-of-way. Further, they were clearly aware that they had been damaged, as the right-of-way was interfering with their proposed development of the property. Although Plaintiffs were not able to definitively point to the wrong legal description on the deed as Attorneys’ exact error until the summer of 2007, they were aware of the issues with Attorneys’ work long before that time,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote in Byram E. Dickes, Ruth E. Logar, et al. v. Ronald D. Felger, and Shambaugh, Kast, Beck & Williams, LLP, 02A03-1206-PL-302.

 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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