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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. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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