The Louisiana Supreme Court recently ruled that a plaintiff bringing a legal malpractice suit does not need to first appeal his original case prior to filing a legal malpractice suit against his attorney. The Court also stated that expert testimony is not always required to prove a legal malpractice claim in the state. The Court’s holding simplifies the process of bringing a legal malpractice claim and eases a plaintiff’s burden in proving the claim.
In MB Industries, LLC v. CNA Insurance Company, the plaintiff sued its attorney after its attorney handed over their documents without first copying them during document production. These actions caused an adverse outcome in the plaintiff’s case. The Court found that a reasonable jury would find this situation to be negligence under any standard of care, and for this reason, the case required no expert testimony to prove the claim. However, the Court ultimately decided that the plaintiff failed to meet its burden of proof in the case.
Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney handles a lawsuit with negligence. The legal profession imposes various ethical and professional duties on lawyers. To prove attorney negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the attorney’s conduct fell below a reasonable standard of care expected from lawyers and that this breach of care caused the plaintiff to lose his case and suffer financial harm.
To prove legal malpractice cases, Louisiana courts utilize a “case within a case” approach, which can make legal malpractice claims notoriously difficult to prove. To prove causation, the plaintiff needs to prove that his underlying case would have been successful, but for his attorney’s negligence. In other words, a Court must determine that the plaintiff would have clearly won his underlying case to proceed with his legal malpractice lawsuit.
In the future, these new relaxed rules will likely alleviate the burden on plaintiffs in bringing legal malpractice lawsuits. With no requirement of appeal, the plaintiff can avoid expensive additional litigation costs and immediately file a legal malpractice case upon his belief of attorney misconduct.
Broussard, David & Moroux represents plaintiffs in legal malpractice lawsuits. If you or a loved one believes that your lawyer negligently mishandled your case, causing you to lose the case and suffer financial harm, contact one of our experienced attorneys to learn about your legal rights. For questions, contact our firm at 1-888-337-2323 (toll free) or 337-233-2323 (local).