Canha v. Gubellini, No. 12-P-923: Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of Legal Malpractice Action


The Massachusetts Court of Appeals, located in Boston, affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice action brought against a Massachusetts attorney.  In Canha v. Gubellini, a client hired an attorney to represent her in a legal malpractice action against her former lawyer.

A judge in the malpractice case ordered the client to produce documents and appear at a deposition.  The client failed to produce any documents and the attorney subsequently filed a motion to withdraw as her counsel.  Two days later, the former lawyer moved to dismiss the malpractice action.  The Court granted the motion finding that the client intentionally disobeyed the Court’s order.  The client appealed this decision.

On appeal, the client argued that her attorney had failed to explain the discovery order and did not advise her how to prepare the documents for production.  However, the motion judge determined that the client was aware of the court order and intentionally resisted providing documents to the attorney.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court accepted the judge’s findings and held that the entry of dismissal did not constitute an abuse of his discretion.  Although dismissal is the most severe sanction for failing to comply with a discovery order, it was appropriate given the client’s willful conduct.  The Court affirmed the judgment of dismissal.

Decision: Canha v. Gubellini


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