Divorcee's malpractice claim against two attorney firms will go to trial
Jannette E. Yergeau filed for separate maintenance against her husband. He counter-sued for divorce. The largest asset in the marital estate was their home in Yergeau's "family compound" on Lake Michigan, and Jannette wanted to keep it. According to her account, her original attorney agreed to a joint appraisal with her husband's attorneys, and the appraisal contained numerous errors and was more than $500,000.00 too high. She told the attorneys to seek a second appraisal and when they delayed, she fired them. She then insisted that the second attorney firm seek a new appraisal, but by the time the case went to trial, the new attorneys hadn't taken any steps to procure one. As a result, she claimed, she was forced to reach a property settlement based on the erroneously inflated value of the marital home.When the divorce was final, Jannette ordered a second appraisal of the home. The new appraisal appeared to validate her concern about the value assigned in the divorce and Jannette sued both attorneys. The local judge dismissed the malpractice claim and Jannette appealed. The Court of Appeals agreed with her that she had raised a genuine issue of fact with regard to whether the attorneys had negligently failed to investigate the true value of the marital home before putting Yergeau in a position where she had no opportunity to resolve the divorce property dispute for fair value.