Vara v. Williams, No. 03-10-00861-CV: Texas Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment for Attorney in Legal Malpractice Case


A Texas appellate court has affirmed a summary judgment in favor of an attorney in a legal malpractice action. In Vara v. Williams, a client hired an attorney to represent her in a divorce proceeding. The parties reached a mediated settlement, and the trial court entered a final divorce decree, which included a provision directing the parties to sign an operating trust agreement (“OTA”) allocating community property assets. Subsequently, disputes arose regarding the OTA, and the client hired a new attorney to represent her in that transaction.

The client later filed an action against the first attorney for negligently handling the OTA negotiations and several other causes of action. The attorney moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted on the basis that the client had failed to timely designate an expert witness.

The appellate court affirmed, finding that contrary to Texas law, the client had attempted to transform a single count for legal malpractice into several other claims. In failing to timely designate an expert, the client could not succeed on her malpractice claim because she could not prove that the attorney had breached the standard of care. Summary judgment was therefore appropriate.

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