Legal Malpractice Claim - Summary Judgment - Expert Testimony Requirement

Schaeffer v. Thompson, [Ms. 2180834, Feb. 28, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2020). The court (Moore, J.; Thompson, P.J., and Donaldson and Hanson, JJ., concur; Edwards, J., recuses) reverses a summary judgment entered by the Dallas Circuit Court in favor of an attorney on legal malpractice claims.

The attorney moved for summary judgment, attached a transcript from the trial of the underlying case, and asserted that he could not be found guilty of legal malpractice based upon tactical decisions made during the course of trial. Ms. *3. In reversing the summary judgment, the court noted that the attorney “did not introduce an affidavit in support of his first summary-judgment motion asserting his reasoning for the strategic decisions that he made at the trial in the underlying case. ... Therefore, we conclude that Thompson failed to establish that his decisions in the trial in the underlying case were tactical such that they would not support a legal malpractice claim.” Ms. *11-12.

The attorney argued that the case fell within the common-knowledge exception such that expert testimony was not required. The common-knowledge exception was not raised in the attorney’s motion for summary judgment, so the court refused to address it. Ms. *12.

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