New Jersey Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment In Favor of Attorney in Legal Malpractice Case

A New Jersey appellate court has affirmed a summary judgment in favor of an attorney in a legal malpractice case. In Kirby v. Chase Home Finance, a woman brought a malpractice action against an attorney who represented a bank for the refinance of a woman’s home.

The settlement agent for the bank in the refinance had retained the attorney, who did not attend the closing , but did notarize the settlement statement, reflecting the disbursement of funds. Later, the woman learned that the terms of her refinance were different that what she had been promised. She then filed an action against the attorney, alleging that the attorney’s conduct was responsible for the differing terms of the refinance.

The attorney moved for summary judgment, which the court allowed and the client appealed. The appellate court affirmed the lower court decision, finding that the attorney had no duty to the woman because there was no attorney-client relationship. The court reasoned that the woman did not have a retainer agreement with the attorney and the fact that the attorney notarized the settlement statement was only a verification of the the accuracy of the disbursements at the closing.

Decision: Kirby v. Chase Home Finance


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