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Tardy filing, forgery: key points in a legal malpractice matter

A California resident’s house burned down several years ago. Her insurance carrier refused to reimburse her for that huge loss, claiming that the fire was an act of arson. The woman was allegedly out of town when the fire occurred. She has persistently expressed confusion and dismay regarding the insurer’s denial.

Actually, she did more than that. She hired a Texas law firm to sue the insurer for breach of contract.

Reportedly, the firm never quite got around to that in a timely way. When the breach claim was ultimately filed, the relevant California statute of limitations had expired, resulting in claim dismissal.

Understandably, the woman was piqued. What apparently happened was that the law firm subcontracted the litigation to a California firm, while tardily filed.

As a result of that, the Texas firm now finds itself as the named defendant in a legal malpractice lawsuit filed by the woman late last year. The claim, which was first brought in a California state court, was moved later to a Texas federal court.

The complaint alleges that the missed deadline equated to legal malpractice, which was exacerbated by the firm forging the plaintiff’s signature. The woman’s filing seeks punitive damages.

The defendant has sought to dismiss the claim on various grounds, including the court’s lack of jurisdiction and an alleged failure by the plaintiff to ground her complaint upon claims warranting relief. The firm has stated its intention to ask for removal of the case to yet another venue in the event the federal court now overseeing it does not dismiss it.