Attorney malpractice claim is reinstated despite questions over "discovery" of malpractice, default against co-counsel; jurisdicition over out-of-state lawyer upheld
Brenda and Daniel Wright sued Joseph Battani, David Lenavitt and Jay Feldstein for legal malpractice after their medical malpractice claim was dismissed. The Lenawee County judge had dismissed their claim, holding that they waited too long to sue. The Court of Appeals disagreed and reinstated the case, pointing out that it was a factual question regarding when the Wrights "should have discovered" that their attorneys were committing malpractice in managing the claim. Even though the statute begins to ruin when a client recognizes a "possible" claim--not a "likely" claim--the Wrights had documented a plausible discovery time period after being repeatedly reassured that their claim was being managed appropriately.
The out-of-state lawyer, Lenavitt, also argued that the State of Michigan should not have jurisdiction over him because he lacked minimal contacts within the state. The Court summarily rejected that argument, noting that he signed an agreement with the Wrights to pursue their claim, sought admission to the Michigan courts for the purpose of pursuing their claim, and "purposely availed" himself of the Michigan court system by as deliberate undertaking.
The reviewing court also made short work of Lenavitt's claim that the clients' relationship with him was not one of attorney-client, and rejected his argument that since a default was entered against Battani, no further damages could be collected against him.