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A Legal Malpractice Plaintiff Must Prove Damages

An Ohio court has affirmed a verdict in favor of a legal malpractice plaintiff. By itself, that would not be worth discussing. However, the result of the case, a verdict of $1,192.12, was a clear disappointment for the plaintiff.

The underlying case was an auto accident in which the plaintiff suffered apparently minor injuries. He hired a lawyer to file a case. Unfortunately, the lawyer missed deadlines and voluntarily dismissed the case. The lawyer then missed the deadline to refile the case and the claim became time-barred.

There is no question that the lawyer made an error. During the legal malpractice trial, the lawyer conceded that he had been negligent but contested the issue of damages. The jury then awarded $1,192.12 in damages. In sum, a great deal of work was done to prove a legal malpractice claim but the jury decided that the damages were minor.

The Ohio Appellate Court affirmed the jury’s verdict. The case is a reminder that legal malpractice cases are not usually worth filing in the absence of substantial economic damages.

Source: FORMICA v. Dehner, 2016 Ohio 75 – Ohio: Court of Appeals, 12th Appellate Dist. 2016 – Google Scholar

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