Springville Corp. v. Stoel Rives LLP

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 03-09-2016
  • Case #: A151806
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Hadlock, C.J.; & Egan, J.

In a legal malpractice action, a plaintiff must establish causation, in that there must be evidence tending to prove that in the case-within-the-case, if the attorney or law firm had not been negligent, the outcome of the case would have been more favorable to the plaintiff; if no evidence of causation is shown, then summary judgment for the defendant(s) is proper.

Plaintiff appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendant in this legal malpractice case, arguing that the trial court erred by finding no material fact supporting Plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff is a general contractor, and in the case-within-this-case, lost on a limited judgment in a breach of contract action. Plaintiff sought legal advice from Defendant for whether to file a notice of appeal on that limited judgment; Defendant advised that it was non-appealable. However, the failure to appeal that limited judgment resulted in the Plaintiff losing its ability to counterclaim in the case-within-this-case, thereby causing Plaintiff to lose on two related judgments. Defendant subsequently appealed the three judgments, which eventually went to the Oregon Supreme Court, which held that because there had been no timely appeal on the limited judgment, the other two appeals should have been dismissed. In the legal malpractice case, the trial court held on summary judgment that Plaintiff had not established causation, in that there was no evidence that Plaintiff would have been successful with a timely appeal of the limited judgment. On appeal, the Court agreed that despite Plaintiff’s assertions to the contrary, there was no evidence establishing that, even if Defendant had advised Plaintiff to timely appeal the limited judgment, that that appeal, or either of the other appeals would have been successful. Affirmed.

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