Florida Appeals Court Says Legal Malpractice Claim Barred by Statute of Limitations


A Florida appeals court has affirmed a summary judgment granted for an attorney on the basis that the Florida two year statute of limitations for legal malpractice claims had expired prior to the filing of the complaint. In McLeod v. Bankier, a client sued an attorney for failing to timely advise his client to file a legal malpractice claim against another former attorney. The first attorney had represented the client in an action against an investment bank, which allegedly made an improper margin call on his securities account.

Although the underlying case eventually settled, the client believed that the settlement agreement required his investment bank to restore his account to its former status. When the funds were not returned, the client hired a new attorney to pursue a claim against the investment bank through the National Association of Securities Dealers (“NASD”). In 2003, the NASD’s arbitration panel ruled in favor of the investment bank. In 2004, the second attorney ended his representation of the client but referred him to a third lawyer to pursue a legal malpractice claim against the first attorney.

The third lawyer advised the client that he did not have a legal malpractice claim against the first attorney. The client then hired another attorney to pursue an appeal of the NASD ruling. This fourth attorney advised the client to file a legal malpractice action against the first attorney rather than pursue the appeal. The client took no action against any of his former attorneys until 2008 when he filed a malpractice complaint against the second lawyer.

In Florida, the statute of limitations begins to run when the client discovered or reasonably should have discovered his injuries. Under the most liberal application of the facts, the latest date when the client could have discovered his injuries was 2004, when the second attorney advised of the potential claim. The action was barred since the complaint was not filed until 2008.

Decision: McLeod v. Bankier


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