An Ohio appellate court has affirmed a summary judgment in favor of an attorney in a legal malpractice case. In Blount v. Smith, a client filed an action pro se claiming negligent representation related to his divorce. The client alleged that the attorney had failed to ensure that the probate court would retain jurisdiction if he sought to modify his alimony payments in the future.
The attorney moved for summary judgment on the basis that the statute of limitations precluded the suit. The client cross-filed his own motion for summary judgment. The court found that the client’s pleading was merely an opposition to the attorney’s motion and granted summary judgment in favor of the attorney.
The client neglected to file a timely appeal but instead moved to set aside the judgment, arguing that the trial court had violated his right to due process by failing to allow him to amend his pleading. The trial court denied the motion and the client appealed.
The appellate court rejected the appeal and affirmed the judgment in favor of the attorney on the basis that the client’s motion to set aside the judgment was merely a substitute for an appeal of the summary judgment ruling, and was untimely under Ohio law.
Decision: Blount v. Smith