A Washington appellate court has affirmed a judgment in favor of a client in a legal malpractice action. In Puget Sound Electrical Workers Health Trust and Vacation Plan v. McKenzie Rothwell Barlow & Korpi, P.S.doc, an electrical worker’s union trust had a collective bargaining agreement with electrical contractors, which required the contractors to pay a portion of the wages of its union members into the trust. The trust retained an attorney to do collections for the trust’s funds.
After a number of years, the trust terminated the attorney, who then informed the trustees that several years earlier, he had made errors handling delinquent collection accounts. The trust then sued the attorney for legal malpractice. After a jury waived trial, the court found in favor of the trust and entered judgment against the attorney for nearly $1.5 million. The attorney appealed.
On appeal, the attorney argued that the trial court made an improper ruling when it found that a reasonably prudent attorney would have collected 85% of the total delinquent accounts, and therefore its calculation of damages was improper. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the 85% collection rate was sufficiently supported by expert witness testimony, and therefore the calculation of damages was reasonable.