An appellate court in New Jersey has affirmed a summary judgment granted against an attorney who filed a third party complaint against an adverse expert witness in a legal malpractice action in which he was the defendant.
In Reilly, Supple & Wischusen, LLC v. Blum, the defendant attorney claimed in his third-party complaint that the expert lawyer’s opinions were “negligently prepared and constituted malpractice.” The trial court dismissed the third-party complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The attorney appealed.
The appellate court upheld the judgment, finding that the expert witness had no duty of care to the defendant attorney in this malpractice case. The Court did however confirm that in some cases an attorney could owe a duty to a non-client. However, the occasion would arise only if the attorney knew or should have known that (1) the non-clients would rely on that attorney’s representations, and (2) the non-clients relationship with the attorney was not too remote to be entitled to protection.
However, in this case the appellate court found that the exception did not apply because the defendant attorney not only did not rely on the expert lawyer’s opinion, but in fact he directly opposed it.
Decision: Reilly, Supple & Wischusen, LLC v. Blum