A Michigan appellate court has affirmed a summary judgment in favor of an attorney in a legal malpractice action. In Frasco, Caponigro, Wineman, & Scheible, PLLC v. IGC Management, Inc., a sub-contractor hired an attorney to recover funds from a general contractor. The general contractor later filed for bankruptcy, and a bank was found to have a priority security interest against the contractor’s assets.
The attorney, who also represented other unpaid sub-contractors, negotiated a mediated settlement with the financers of the project. However, the original sub-contractor did not assent to the terms of the settlement. The attorney informed the mediator and requested that the agreement contain a separate signature line for the sub-contractor, which the mediator failed to include. Nevertheless, the attorney executed the agreement and the bankruptcy court found that the sub-contractor was bound by its terms because the attorney signed on its behalf.
The sub-contractor then sued the attorney for legal malpractice. The attorney moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The sub-contractor appealed.
The appellate court affirmed, finding that although the attorney’s conduct may have breached his ethical duties, it did not constitute malpractice. Under Michigan law, liability for settling a case without a client’s consent stems from a bad faith breach of contract rather than negligence. Here, the attorney did not intend to sign the agreement on behalf of the sub-contractor and had informed the mediator that he did not have such authority. Thus, the attorney acted in good faith and summary judgment was appropriate.
If you believe that you or your company has suffered damages as the result of the negligent conduct of a lawyer, contact Boston Legal Malpractice Lawyer, Keith L. Miller, to arrange a free consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone at (617) 523-5803, or click here to send him a confidential email. You will receive a response within 24 hours.