A Texas appeals court has affirmed a summary judgment granted for an attorney in a legal malpractice action because the client failed to meet the required standard of proof in the case as to causation and damages. In Orcutt v. Goldberg, a client sued her former attorney for malpractice resulting from the attorney’s failure to give her former husband proper service and provide him with notice of a hearing for temporary orders during their divorce proceedings. The client’s former husband failed to attend the hearing and the court entered temporary support orders by default.
The former husband then moved to vacate the temporary orders due to lack of notice. A hearing took place on the husband’s motion, but there was no indication in the record whether or not the court vacated the prior Order. The court then issued a final divorced decree, without mention of the temporary Orders.
The client then sued her attorney, arguing that the attorney’s omissions either resulted in the temporary orders to have been vacated by the Court or void as a matter of law.. In either case, the result precluded them from being incorporated in the divorce decree.
The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the attorney and the client appealed. The appellate court affirmed the judgment in favor of the attorney, finding that the client could not prove that the attorney’s conduct caused the client’s alleged damages. The Court reviewed the lower court record, which did not indicate that the temporary orders had been vacated or that the temporary orders had any effect on the final divorce decree.
Decision: Orcutt v. Goldberg