Duane Morris Settles, Letting Legal Malpractice Ruling Stand
Duane Morris has settled a legal malpractice suit against it for an undisclosed amount, letting stand a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling that legal malpractice damages in civil cases are not limited to the fees paid to an attorney.
The state Supreme Court had granted allocatur in Coleman v. Duane Morris in June, in an order limiting review to the issue of whether its 1993 ruling in Bailey v. Tucker limiting malpractice damages to fees paid to an attorney applies only in the criminal context or can be extended to civil cases.
In November 2012, the Superior Court ruled the limitation on legal malpractice damages to the fees paid to an attorney only applies in criminal cases, not civil.
That ruling reinstated a legal malpractice suit filed against Duane Morris that had been thrown out by the trial court because the plaintiffs never paid Duane Morris' bills and, therefore, had no damages to collect, according to the lower court.
According to the docket, Duane Morris filed a praecipe to withdraw its appeal of that ruling September 17 and the case was listed as "disposed before decision."
A spokesman for Duane Morris declined to comment except to say, "The parties have resolved their dispute."
Counsel for Duane Morris, Abraham C. Reich of Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia, declined to comment.
Counsel for the plaintiffs, Kenneth J. Zoldan of Zoldan Associates in Philadelphia, also declined to comment on the settlement.
Thomas Waffenschmidt, a legal malpractice attorney with Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Harris, Waters, Waffenschmidt & Dohrmann in Williamsport, Pa., who was not involved in Coleman, said overturning the Bailey precedent could lead to "tremendously unfair" results for plaintiffs in cases where the alleged malpractice led to losses well beyond what was paid in attorney fees.
Waffenschmidt said such a limitation on damages would amount to an "arbitrary cap."