Bailey v. Robinson, No. 2 CA-CV 2012-0098: Arizona Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment for Attorney in Legal Malpractice Case

An Arizona appellate court has affirmed summary judgment in favor of an attorney in a legal malpractice action. In Bailey v. Robinson, a taxpayer hired an attorney to represent him in a civil action against the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), seeking a refund from a prior tax year. After a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, the court entered judgment for the IRS. The attorney then withdrew his representation.
The client filed a motion seeking relief from the judgment, arguing that an IRS agent had perjured herself and submitted falsified documents at trial. The client also argued that his attorney failed to discover or argue these issues. The trial court denied the motion, specifically ruling that the client failed to show that the agent had lied under oath or presented falsified documents, and therefore identified no reason for the attorney to have inquired into these subjects.

Several years later, the taxpayer sued his former attorney in state court for malpractice, again alleging that the attorney negligently failed to discover the IRS agent’s alleged perjury. The attorney successfully moved for summary judgment and the taxpayer appealed.

The appellate court affirmed, finding that the taxpayer was estopped from arguing that the agent perjured herself, because this issue was fully litigated and essential to the District Court’s judgment. Thus, there were no remaining issues of material fact and summary judgment was properly granted.

Decision: Bailey v. Robinson


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