In Paldino v. Johnson, 2023 Ohio 1947, Ohio Court of Appeals, 11th Appellate District 2023, the appellate court affirmed a legal malpractice verdict in favor of the plaintiff for a modest sum of money.
Plaintiff hired a lawyer to assist him in dividing a parcel of property he owned with a co-tenant. The court divided the property but because plaintiff failed to introduce evidence that he had paid the mortgage, the court awarded him less than he should have received. The amount plaintiff had paid towards the mortgage was $39,339.88. (Apparently the co-tenant had not paid any money toward the mortgage). Plaintiff sued his former lawyer for that amount and the trial court, after a trial, awarded him $39,339.88 in damages. The court entered judgment against the lawyer and the plaintiff appealed arguing that he was entitled to punitive damages.
The appellate court rejected the appeal and affirmed the judgment. There was no allegation of fraud. This was a simple oversight by the lawyer and punitive damages were not available. Illinois does not allow the recovery of punitive damages in legal malpractice cases.