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Mandamus – Legal Services Liability Act – Severance

Ex parte Albert Daniels, [Ms. 1170347, May 18, 2018] So. 3d (Ala. 2018). This decision by Justice Main grants a writ of mandamus vacating the Barbour Circuit Court’s severance and stay of an action against a law firm.

Plaintiff alleged the law firm had represented the personal representative in a prior wrongful- death action and although the plaintiff was an heir of the decedent, none of the wrongful-death settlement proceeds were distributed to him. Ms. *3. The law firm invoked § 6-5-579 of the Alabama Legal Services Liability Act (“the ALSLA”) which requires a severance and stay of legal malpractice claims until the conclusion of any related underlying litigation.

The Court held that the circuit court exceeded its discretion in ordering the severance and stay because the Morris law firm never rendered legal services to the plaintiff and because plaintiff’s claim against co-defendant Johnson (the personal representative of plaintiff’s deceased father’s estate) was not an underlying action as defined by the ALSLA. Ms. *8.

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