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Legal malpractice plaintiffs must be aware of filing limits

In our previous post, we discussed a legal malpractice case in which a man accused his former attorney and the law office for which he worked of failing to file his legal claims within the applicable statutes of limitation.

While this was certainly a very interesting case that served to highlight how attorneys can and should be held liable for failing to meet deadlines, it's also raised an important point for would-be plaintiffs that they too are subject to a statute of limitation for filing a legal malpractice claim.

Accordingly, if they fail to remember that the clock is ticking, they may run the risk of forfeiting their legal malpractice claim altogether.

To illustrate how this can all go wrong, consider a recent legal malpractice case out of Illinois filed by a real estate developer against his longtime attorney.

According to the facts of the case, the real estate developer formed a group back in 2008 for the express purpose of developing a commercial property in the Chicago area.

As part of the development plan, the group was seeking to build a store for a popular pharmacy chain and develop a partially constructed outlot to sell to an area bank for future use.

In order to accomplish this, the group needed to secure a reciprocal easement agreement (REA) from both the pharmacy and the bank, such that the bank customers would be permitted to use the pharmacy's parking/drive areas. Any failure to secure the necessary REAs would make the bank property inaccessible.

The group turned to the defendant attorney -- who had represented the real estate developer for over two decades -- to complete the necessary paperwork.

However, the complaint states that the attorney somehow failed to include a clause in the lease contract concerning the REAs and that this was discovered after the fact. This failure, the complaint alleges, caused the bank to withdraw from the entire deal as the pharmacy ultimately refused to grant the requested access.

At trial, the judge proceeded to throw out the plaintiff's legal malpractice lawsuit on the grounds that it was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Here, the judge held that real estate developer knew that the harm (i.e., the loss of the bank contract) occurred in 2008, but didn't file the legal malpractice lawsuit until April 2012.

This decision was later affirmed on appeal.

From gross negligence to fraudulent behavior, if you believe that an attorney's malpractice has caused you considerable damage here in California, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can help you pursue the justice you deserve.

Source: Chicago Development News, "Appellate court dismisses legal malpractice suit filed by Area Wide," Julie Harrison, September 11, 2013 

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