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Having An Expert Witness Is Mandatory

Rodowicz v. Feldman, Perlstein & Greene, LLC 3:20-cv-00777  D. Conn. 2024 was a legal malpractice suit where the plaintiff claimed that he lost the underlying litigation (a breach of fiduciary duty by a trustee case)  because of his lawyers’ negligence. He had no expert and summary judgment was granted in favor of the lawyers. The explanation:

“In order to demonstrate a “wrongful act or omission,” the plaintiff must establish the “standard of proper professional skill or care,” i.e., the standard by which a lay person—such as a juror—should judge the attorney’s conduct. Grimm v. Fox, 303 Conn. 322, 329-330 (2012). To demonstrate causation, the plaintiff must show what likely would have happened if the attorney had not breached the standard of care. See Bozelko, 323 Conn. at 284.

Establishing the standard of care and causation ordinarily requires an expert witness. The negligence of an attorney and the consequences of that negligence are matters “beyond the field of ordinary knowledge and experience possessed by a juror.” Id. at 284-85. As a result, a claim of legal malpractice usually requires the testimony of an expert witness to prove before a jury. Ibid.; see also Grimm, 303 Conn. at 329-30.

Here, Rodowicz has not disclosed any expert witnesses, and he has missed the deadline to do so. Without an expert witness, he will be unable to demonstrate to a jury that his attorneys breached their duty or the causal consequences of that breach, two essential elements of his case. Under these circumstances, summary judgment is usually appropriate. See Bozelko, 323 Conn. at 277 (affirming grant of summary judgment to defendant after plaintiff failed to disclose an expert); see also Kalra v. Adler Pollock & Sheehan, P.C., 2022 WL 280180, at *9 (D. Conn. 2022) (granting summary judgment absent expert testimony); Finch v. Tooher, Wocl & Lydon, LLC, 2013 WL 163988, at *4 (D. Conn. 2013) (same).”

Comment: you can argue that your case is unique and no expert is needed, but you should realize that the expert explains to the jury what the standard of care was and why the lawyer failed to meet the standard of care.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

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