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Alabama Legal Services Liability Act ("ALSLA") - Statute of Limitations

Ex parte Edwards and Edwards Law, LLC, [Ms. 1180255, Jan. 17, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Wise, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Shaw and Bryan, JJ., concur in the result; Sellers, J., dissents; and Mendheim, J., recuses) grants the defendant’s petition for writ of mandamus and directs the Jefferson Circuit Court to enter summary judgment dismissing an action filed by Ivan Gray against Edwards, Gray’s former attorney, alleging conversion of a retainer. The Court first concluded that the case came within an exception allowing mandamus review of an order denying a motion for summary judgment where the bar of the statute of limitations appears on the face of the complaint. Ms. *5.

The Court rejected Gray’s arguments that his claims were for conversion and breach of contract, governed by a six-year statute of limitations. The Court explained: “[i]t is well settled, however, that a legal-service-liability action under the ALSLA is the sole ‘form and cause of action against legal service providers in courts in the state of Alabama.’” Ms. *7, quoting § 6-5-573, Ala. Code 1975. The Court held that “Gray’s claims against Edwards arose out of the attorney-client relationship between Gray and Sonya; therefore, his claims fall under the ALSLA and its provisions.” Ms. *9.

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