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Court rejects summary disposition based on "attorney judgment" rule

Shelly Bush retained Steven Goren and his firm to evaluate her potential medical malpractice and product liability claim. Goren eventually informed her that he could not find medical professional support for the claim and advised her of the malpractice statute of limitations in the process of closing her file.  She then attempted to recruit other attorneys to pursue the claim, but could not engage another lawyer because the malpractice statute of limitations was only months away. Bush later settled her product liability claim against the manufacturer without an attorney and eventually sued Goren, alleging that his failure to advise her of the longer product liability statute of limitations caused her to settle the product liability claim for an insufficient amount.

Goren claimed that he only informed her of the shortest time limitation in order to avoid confusing Bush.   On this basis, the trial court held that his "tactical" decision was a matter of professional judgment which could not be the basis of a malpractice claim.  The Court of Appeals reversed this summary disposition of the claim and returned the case for analysis by the jury.  It concluded that a question of fact had been raised.  The Court held that an attorney is on thin ice when he claims that the failure to inform a client about a fundamental issue, such as the statute of limitations, when not in an adversarial setting, is a matter of professional judgment.
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