Woman's suit alleging attorney's failure to confirm oral settlement promises is dismissed
Katherine Heys sued her attorneys, Butzel Long, P.C., after they allegely failed to achieve her goals in contesting her deceased grandfather's estate plans. She alleged that undue influence had been exercised over her grandfather. In private negotiations with her father, Heys claimed that she had been promised one million dollars, plus one-half of her father's inheritance, plus inclusion in the family foundation. She alleged that she had instructed her attorneys to assure that these terms would be included in any proposed settlement and that they were negligent in failing to document anything beyond a $250,000.00 inheritance. After her attorney signed the final [$250,000.00] settlement on her behalf at a court-ordered settlement conference, she filed a malpractice suit.The executed settlement did not refer to the alleged promises by Heys' father and contained an "integration" clause excluding any other settlement agreements or terms. Heys' claim was dismissed by the trial court which left only the attorney's counter-claim for fees pending. When Heys attempted to appeal the ruling on her case, she didn't have the "right" to appeal because the case wasn't concluded by a final order.
The parties then agreed to dismiss the attorneys' counter-claim, without prejudice [meaning the attorneys could re-file it, if they chose], and Heys attempted to appeal the dismissal of her claim. This time, however, she was denied an appeal because the final order was a dismissal without prejudice--which is not appealable by right--and a year had passed since her case was dismissed.