OH – Expert Testimony Required in Legal Mal Case Involving Alleged Conflict of Interest
By Will Jordan
Attorney agreed to represent Client in the underlying case, despite a potential conflict of interest about which he warned Client. Shortly after undertaking the representation, it became apparent that Attorney did, in fact, have a conflict. Attorney moved to withdraw from the representation and was relieved as counsel. Client, unhappy with the result of the underlying litigation, filed a legal malpractice suit against Attorney, supporting his claim, in part, by pointing to the conflict of interest. Attorney moved for summary judgment based, in part, on Client’s failure to introduce expert testimony regarding the conflict. The Court held that even in cases in which both parties agree that a conflict of interest existed, the legal malpractice plaintiff must introduce expert testimony so that the jury can determine “whether [the attorney’s] actions or omissions in response to the apparent conflict fell below the applicable standard of care.” As we’ve said before, the circumstances under which a legal malpractice plaintiff doesn’t have to introduce expert testimony are extremely rare.
Passerell v. Cordell, No. 2014-A-0050 (Oh. Ct. App., May 11, 2015).
Read the full opinion here.