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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. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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