Summary Dismissal Victory Affirmed by Phillip E. Seltzer and Samantha K. Heraud In Defense of Lawyer and Law Firm on Claim of Legal Malpractice

Phil and Samantha 2017By Opinion dated October 24, 2017, the Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a prior trial court victory achieved by the Lipson, Neilson team in obtaining summary dismissal of a legal malpractice claim on the ground of collateral estoppel. In this case, a former divorce Client sued his attorneys for allegedly coercing him to enter into a Consent Judgment of Divorce, which he asserted was inadequate and patently unfair. The Client had previously tried to set aside the Consent Judgment, through other counsel, based on the claim the Client had been coerced to settle. He was unsuccessful before the trial court and the Court of Appeals. The Michigan Supreme Court also denied leave, ending the post-judgment effort to set aside the divorce Consent judgement.

Afterward, the client filed his legal malpractice claim against his former attorneys. Although the client alleged numerous grounds of malpractice, they were ultimately predicated upon the notion that the negligence and misconduct of the attorneys resulted in forcing and coercing the underlying Consent Judgment. However, because the Client had a full opportunity to litigate the issue of coercion, and lost on that, he was now collaterally estopped from relitigating the same issue of coercion in the legal malpractice case. The summary dismissal entered by the trial court was affirmed by a unanimous panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals.