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Judges rule on legal malpractice action

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The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that a man has standing to pursue his legal malpractice action, although issues of material fact preclude him from summary judgment as to the attorney’s liability for malpractice.

In Charles Price v. Delmar Kuchaes, No. 45A04-1007-CT-467, attorney Delmar Kuchaes claimed his former client Charles Price didn’t have standing to sue him for legal malpractice stemming from his representation in the Prices’ suit after Charles’ wife contracted polio after being exposed to someone recently vaccinated.

After Price lost his claim for loss of consortium due to failure to comply with notice requirements under Indiana law, Price filed a legal malpractice action against Kuchaes. The Prices then filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2007, but didn’t inform the bankruptcy court of this malpractice suit until they filed an amended petition in 2009. The bankruptcy case was later dismissed.

At a hearing, the trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Price as to Kuchaes’ liability for malpractice, but denied summary judgment on the amount of damages. It held Cathy Price’s injury was battery under Indiana law and Kuchaes failed to act as a reasonably prudent lawyer, and that failure was the proximate cause of damages incurred by Price. The trial court later granted Kuchaes’ dispositive motion for summary judgment. Both sides appealed.

Kuchaes argued Price doesn’t have standing to maintain the legal malpractice action because when he filed for bankruptcy, the trustee became the one to pursue the claim. The judges found that when the bankruptcy was dismissed in July 2009, that returned ownership of the action to Price, so he has standing to pursue his legal malpractice action.

Although the judges found it troubling that Price didn’t disclose his malpractice action initially in his bankruptcy filing, they concluded as a matter of law that the malpractice action isn’t barred by judicial estoppel as Kuchaes argued. They reversed summary judgment to Kuchaes and remanded for further proceedings on this issue.

The judges also concluded that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Price as to Kuchaes’ liability for malpractice. Price didn’t show that if Kuchaes had properly pursued the loss of consortium claim against the vaccine manufacturers he would have prevailed. There are also issues of material fact as to whether Price’s loss of consortium claims against the vaccine manufacturers and medical defendants would have been successful had Kuchaes properly pursued them.

The appellate court affirmed the denial of summary judgment for Price as to damages, and remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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