The Massachusetts Court of Appeals, located in Boston, has affirmed a judgment dismissing a legal malpractice claim against a Massachusetts attorney. In Resnick v Baker, a client hired an attorney to represent him in a property dispute. The attorney obtained a favorable result for the client, but failed to timely file a motion seeking payment of the client’s attorney’s fees. The judge granted the opposition’s motion to strike the request for fees.
Upon realization that his conduct could give rise to a legal malpractice claim, the attorney entered into an agreement with the client. The attorney waived his right to receive payment of certain fees and agreed to perform additional work for free, in exchange for a release of any malpractice claim. Several years later, the attorney and client got into a dispute regarding an unrelated business venture, and the client then brought an action alleging that the attorney negligently represented him in the property dispute.
The attorney successfully moved to dismiss the case. The motion judge explained that there was no evidence that the client suffered any harm as a result of the error made by the attorney, because the settlement agreement provided adequate compensation. The client appealed the decision.
However, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the dismissal, agreeing with the lower court that the client had knowingly waived his malpractice claim for just compensation. The Court therefore affirmed judgment for the attorney.
Decision: Resnick v Baker