Hand v. Howell, Sarto & Howell

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Tommy Hand sued the Prattville law firm of Howell, Sarto & Howell and William P. Roberts II, an attorney formerly employed by the Howell firm, asserting a claim under the Alabama Legal Services Liability Act based on their alleged negligent representation of him in an action seeking damages for personal injuries he suffered as a result of an automobile accident. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the Howell firm and Roberts; Hand appealed. On appeal, Hand argued that Roberts and the Howell firm committed legal malpractice when they failed to name the Montgomery Advertiser, which Hand labeled "the critical deep-pocket defendant" as a party in Hand's personal injury action. Hand argues that the failure devalued his case to the extent that he had to settle for approximately half of what the case was worth and for an amount significantly less than his actual economic damage, not to mention his pain and suffering. Because there was no evidence indicating, only speculation, that Hand would have been able to settle his injury claim for a higher amount if Roberts and the Howell firm had also named the Montgomery Advertiser as a defendant, the Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Roberts and the firm.

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REL: 05/31/2013 Notice: T h i s o p i n i o n i s s u b j e c t t o formal r e v i s i o n b e f o r e p u b l i c a t i o n i n t h e advance s h e e t s o f Southern R e p o r t e r . R e a d e r s a r e r e q u e s t e d t o n o t i f y t h e R e p o r t e r o f D e c i s i o n s , A l a b a m a A p p e l l a t e C o u r t s , 300 D e x t e r A v e n u e , M o n t g o m e r y , A l a b a m a 3 6 1 0 4 - 3 7 4 1 ( ( 3 3 4 ) 2 2 9 ¬ 0 6 4 9 ) , o f a n y t y p o g r a p h i c a l o r o t h e r e r r o r s , i n o r d e r t h a t c o r r e c t i o n s may b e made b e f o r e t h e o p i n i o n i s p r i n t e d i n Southern R e p o r t e r . SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA OCTOBER TERM, 2012-2013 1120133 Tommy Hand v. Howell, Sarto & Howell and W i l l i a m P. Roberts I I Appeal from Autauga C i r c u i t (CV-10-0059) STUART, Justice. Tommy Hand s u e d t h e P r a t t v i l l e & Howell attorney Court ("the H o w e l l formerly firm") law f i r m of Howell, and W i l l i a m employed by t h e Howell c l a i m under t h e Alabama L e g a l P. R o b e r t s firm, Sarto II, an asserting a S e r v i c e s L i a b i l i t y A c t , § 6-5- 1120133 570 e t s e q . , A l a . Code alleged negligent damages for automobile judgment appeals. ("the A L S L A " ) , b a s e d representation personal on o f h i m i n an a c t i o n their seeking i n j u r i e s he s u f f e r e d as a r e s u l t o f an accident. i n favor 1975 The trial of the Howell court entered a f i r m and R o b e r t s ; summary Hand now We a f f i r m . I. On S e p t e m b e r 15, 2004, Hand was i n j u r e d i n an a u t o m o b i l e accident on i n t e r s t a t e h i g h w a y I-65 i n Montgomery when t h e t r u c k he was d r i v i n g was s t r u c k i n t h e r e a r by a n o t h e r v e h i c l e being Hand d r i v e n by J u l i e B e n n e t t . was driving a truck At the time of the accident, f o r h i s employer, Warehouse, I n c . , and B e n n e t t was the line and Hodges Bonded o n - d u t y and w o r k i n g within s c o p e o f h e r employment with the Montgomery Advertiser. Hand s u f f e r e d a b a c k i n j u r y i n t h e a c c i d e n t subsequently r e t a i n e d the Howell f i r m t o pursue a and personal- i n j u r y c l a i m a g a i n s t B e n n e t t stemming from t h e a c c i d e n t . Roberts, firm, was a t t h e t i m e an a s s o c i a t e a t t o r n e y responsible personal-injury George Howell, claim. f o r doing He was the i n i t i a l supervised a partner i n the Howell f i r m . 2 at the Howell work on i n that Hand's work by On S e p t e m b e r 11, 1120133 2006, Court Roberts on filed behalf a of complaint Hand i n the asserting wantonness c l a i m a g a i n s t B e n n e t t . t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r Montgomery a Circuit negligence and/or T h a t c o m p l a i n t d i d n o t name or i t s corporate parent, Gannett, I n c . , as d e f e n d a n t s , n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g t h e f a c t t h a t B e n n e t t was o n - d u t y and w o r k i n g f o r t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r a t t h e t i m e of the a c c i d e n t . In a d e p o s i t i o n , Roberts would t h a t G e o r g e H o w e l l t o l d him i t was later state u n n e c e s s a r y t o add them as parties. The accountant to c a l c u l a t e t h e p r e s e n t t o t a l v a l u e o f Hand's e c o n o m i c l o s s as a result Howell firm subsequently retained of the a c c i d e n t ; based i n j u r y , t h a t f i g u r e was n e g o t i a t i o n s ensued, ultimately on t h e s e v e r i t y c a l c u l a t e d t o be $872,500. of h i s back Settlement and B e n n e t t ' s p e r s o n a l i n s u r a n c e company o f f e r e d up approximately an $25,000, t h e l i m i t June 2007, R o b e r t s of her p o l i c y . learned that an In additional $5,000,000 i n c o v e r a g e was a v a i l a b l e t o B e n n e t t u n d e r a p o l i c y T r a v e l e r s I n s u r a n c e ( " T r a v e l e r s " ) had i s s u e d t o G a n n e t t , I n c . , and, i n F e b r u a r y 2008, R o b e r t s o f f e r e d t o s e t t l e t h e c a s e f o r $ 1 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 ; t h a t o f f e r was rejected. 3 1120133 In October August 2008 Roberts 2008 t h e t r i a l f r o m Hand's c a s e . left the Howell firm, and court granted h i s request to A l t h o u g h George H o w e l l a t t o r n e y o f r e c o r d , h i s h e a l t h was poor remained and he was withdraw as Hand's unable a d e q u a t e l y h a n d l e Hand's c a s e ; a c c o r d i n g l y , H a r o l d H o w e l l , appears t o have b e e n t h e only other a t t o r n e y at the f i r m at t h i s time, r e t a i n e d B e t t y Love of Love, in T a l l a d e g a t o w o r k on t h e c a s e . materials Harold Howell Harold Howell Tommy Hand. wrote: On faxing you G e o r g e seems t o t h i n k Love, to who Howell & Love the cover sheet of the faxed to Love r e l a t i n g " I am in the this to the case, 2 complaints is sufficient. on My t h o u g h t s a r e we s h o u l d have a l l e g e d she was an e m p l o y e e o f t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r and acting i n the line scope of her Hand was at the m e d i a t i o n and employment." In May 2009 Hand's case went r e p r e s e n t e d by Harold Howell made an i n i t i a l o f f e r to s e t t l e h i s claim against Bennett f o r $1,750,000. understood I t appears and to mediation. Love t o be u n d i s p u t e d t h a t a l l t h e p a r t i e s t h a t T r a v e l e r s , which had retained counsel for B e n n e t t , w o u l d be f u n d i n g t h e v a s t m a j o r i t y o f any s e t t l e m e n t ; its initial c o u n t e r o f f e r was $40,000. 4 A f t e r some n e g o t i a t i o n 1120133 that offer was increased to $125,000; however, Hand s u b s e q u e n t l y r e f u s e d t o a c c e p t l e s s t h a n $1,250,000 and w a l k e d out of the m e d i a t i o n a f t e r H a r o l d Howell him t o make a l o w e r counteroffer. and L o v e p r e s s u r e d I n the f o l l o w i n g days, H a r o l d H o w e l l v i s i t e d Hand a t h i s r e s i d e n c e and Hand's w i f e a t her workplace i n an attempt to g e t Hand to reengage i n s e t t l e m e n t t a l k s ; h o w e v e r , h i s e f f o r t s were u n s u c c e s s f u l , a n d , on May 16, 2009, Hand n o t i f i e d t h e H o w e l l f i r m v i a l e t t e r that he was t e r m i n a t i n g t h e i r a t t o r n e y - c l i e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p b a s e d on " c o n t i n u i n g p r e s s u r e on my w i f e and me t o t a k e a c t i o n s t h a t I do n o t f e e l w o u l d be i n my b e s t i n t e r e s t . " Hand o b t a i n e d h i s l e g a l On Frank July 29, 2009, file Hand On J u l y 10, 2009, from the Howell met with firm. Montgomery attorneys H a w t h o r n e and Randy M y e r s o f t h e l a w f i r m Hawthorne & Myers t o d i s c u s s h i s a c t i o n against Bennett. They informed Hand a t t h a t t i m e t h a t t h e v a l u e o f h i s c a s e was d i m i n i s h e d because t h e Montgomery defendant Hand from Advertiser had n o t been named as a and t h e s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s on h i s c l a i m b a r r e d adding a new defendant at this late date. They s u b s e q u e n t l y p r e p a r e d a f f i d a v i t s i n w h i c h t h e y swore t h a t t h e s e t t l e m e n t v a l u e o f a c a s e a g a i n s t t h e Montgomery 5 Advertiser 1120133 w o u l d have b e e n b e t w e e n $1,000,000 and $1,200,000. and Myers following nevertheless another round agreed to represent was paid by $600,000 Bennett's was paid p o l i c y h e l d by personal by Hand, o f m e d i a t i o n i n November a g r e e d t o s e t t l e h i s c a s e f o r $625,000. Hawthorne 2009, Of t h a t sum, auto-insurance Travelers pursuant and, $25,000 carrier to the Hand and insurance Gannett. On J a n u a r y 13, 2010, Hand f i l e d t h e i n s t a n t a c t i o n i n t h e Montgomery C i r c u i t C o u r t a l l e g i n g t h a t R o b e r t s and t h e H o w e l l f i r m had committed Montgomery Bennett. Circuit Howell l e g a l m a l p r a c t i c e by f a i l i n g Advertiser as a d e f e n d a n t t o name t h e i n his action against The c a s e was s u b s e q u e n t l y t r a n s f e r r e d t o t h e A u t a u g a Court, firm and, moved i n separate f o r a summary motions, Roberts and j u d g m e n t on Hand's a g a i n s t them, a r g u i n g ( 1 ) t h a t Hand's the claims c l a i m s were b a r r e d b y the s t a t u t e of l i m i t a t i o n s a p p l i c a b l e t o c l a i m s brought under the ALSLA; (2) that Hand's claim for damages was too s p e c u l a t i v e ; and ( 3 ) t h a t Hand h a d r e l e a s e d any c l a i m s a g a i n s t them i n t h e r e l e a s e he h a d e x e c u t e d i n accordance settlement i n the a c t i o n against Bennett. 6 with his 1120133 On May the the 14, pending trial 2012, the t r i a l c o u r t c o n d u c t e d a h e a r i n g on summary-judgment m o t i o n s , court granted Roberts's and, and on May the 21, Howell 2012, firm's m o t i o n s and e n t e r e d a summary j u d g m e n t i n t h e i r f a v o r w i t h o u t specifying the basis motion to a l t e r , for that ruling. Hand's amend, o r v a c a t e t h e j u d g m e n t was o p e r a t i o n o f l a w p u r s u a n t t o R u l e 59.1, A l a . R. Hand now subsequent d e n i e d by C i v . P., and appeals. II. Hand argues that the trial court erred i n entering summary j u d g m e n t i n f a v o r o f R o b e r t s and t h e H o w e l l f i r m . r e v i e w t h i s argument p u r s u a n t t o t h e f o l l o w i n g s t a n d a r d : " T h i s C o u r t ' s r e v i e w o f a summary j u d g m e n t i s de novo. W i l l i a m s v. S t a t e Farm Mut. A u t o . I n s . Co., 886 So. 2d 72, 74 ( A l a . 2003) . We a p p l y t h e same s t a n d a r d o f r e v i e w as t h e t r i a l court applied. S p e c i f i c a l l y , we must d e t e r m i n e w h e t h e r t h e movant has made a p r i m a f a c i e s h o w i n g t h a t no g e n u i n e i s s u e of m a t e r i a l f a c t e x i s t s and t h a t t h e movant i s e n t i t l e d t o a j u d g m e n t as a m a t t e r o f l a w . R u l e 5 6 ( c ) , A l a . R. C i v . P.; B l u e C r o s s & B l u e S h i e l d o f A l a b a m a v. H o d u r s k i , 899 So. 2d 949, 952-53 ( A l a . 2004). I n m a k i n g s u c h a d e t e r m i n a t i o n , we must r e v i e w t h e e v i d e n c e i n t h e l i g h t most f a v o r a b l e t o the nonmovant. W i l s o n v. Brown, 496 So. 2d 756, 758 (Ala. 1986). Once t h e movant makes a p r i m a f a c i e s h o w i n g t h a t t h e r e i s no g e n u i n e i s s u e o f m a t e r i a l f a c t , t h e b u r d e n t h e n s h i f t s t o t h e nonmovant t o p r o d u c e ' s u b s t a n t i a l e v i d e n c e ' as t o t h e e x i s t e n c e of a genuine i s s u e of m a t e r i a l f a c t . B a s s v. 7 a We 1120133 S o u t h T r u s t Bank o f B a l d w i n C o u n t y , 538 So. 2d 794, 797-98 ( A l a . 1 9 8 9 ) ; A l a . Code 1975, § 12-21-12." Dow v. A l a b a m a (Ala. Democratic Party, 897 So. 2d 1035, 1038-39 2004). III. The Howell name gravamen o f Hand's a c t i o n f i r m committed t h e Montgomery legal malpractice Advertiser c r i t i c a l deep-pocket defendant" against Bennett. i s that Hand a r g u e s Roberts and t h e when t h e y f a i l e d t o which Hand l a b e l s "the as a p a r t y i n Hand's a c t i o n that the f a i l u r e t o name t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r as a d e f e n d a n t d e v a l u e d h i s c a s e t o t h e extent the his t h a t he h a d t o s e t t l e f o r a p p r o x i m a t e l y h a l f o f what c a s e was w o r t h a n d f o r an amount s i g n i f i c a n t l y actual suffering. economic damage, not t o mention Hand s u p p o r t s h i s c l a i m Howell firm's actions that l e s s than h i s pain and R o b e r t s ' s and t h e constituted l e g a l malpractice with the a f f i d a v i t t e s t i m o n y o f h i s subsequent a t t o r n e y s , Hawthorne and Myers, i n d i c a t i n g t h a t h i s c l a i m w o u l d have b e e n w o r t h up t o $1,200,000 h a d t h e Montgomery Advertiser been named as a d e f e n d a n t , as w e l l as H a r o l d H o w e l l ' s n o t e t o Love i n d i c a t i n g t h a t "we s h o u l d [ B e n n e t t ] was an e m p l o y e e o f t h e have a l l e g e d 8 1120133 Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r acting in the line and scope of her employment." However, e v e n t h o u g h t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r was named defendant insured under Advertiser's additional in Hand's a policy Travelers majority of b e e n a v a i l a b l e had defendant. firm would her eventual i n d i c a t i n g t h a t any against had Bennett, issued Gannett, and the counsel settlement. was Bennett invoked and funded the There a d d i t i o n a l insurance was Bennett same p o l i c y . with i s no an her, vast evidence c o v e r a g e w o u l d have t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r b e e n named as is essentially dependent punished Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r a on the "deep-pocket more t h a n an a Montgomery Thus, Hand's c l a i m a g a i n s t R o b e r t s and have i t t h e c o u r s e o f Hand's a c t i o n a g a i n s t provided the parent under t h a t t h a t coverage during and Travelers corporate insured action not assertion the that Howell like a jury like defendant" individual a the Bennett, and t h e c o n c o m i t a n t a s s e r t i o n t h a t Hand, t h e r e f o r e , w o u l d have been a b l e Advertiser to negotiate was v e r d i c t being a party returned a higher based settlement on against the the 9 i f the likelihood Montgomery of a higher Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r . 1120133 However, e v e n i f , as Hand a l l e g e s , " e v e r y t r i a l the country" would ultimately fails agree because f o l l o w the law, Johnson C r i m . App. 1992), with that we not the presume that State damages b a s e d of the on t h e e v i d e n c e defendant Ala. this Court will (Ala. For example, i n Barbour (1872), juries l o n g been the law i n t h i s and i t has identity argument 1299 presumed w e a l t h . 566 his v. S t a t e , 612 So. 2d 1288, t h a t a j u r y must c a l c u l a t e injury, must assertion, lawyer i n and h i s or County who was her v. H o r n , r e v e r s e d a judgment based v e r d i c t e n t e r e d i n f a v o r of a p l a i n t i f f of 48 on a i n j u r e d when he f e l l o f f an i n s e c u r e b r i d g e b a s e d on t h e i m p r o p e r admission of the evidence r e g a r d i n g the defendant's wealth and c o u r t ' s r e f u s a l to g i v e the f o l l o w i n g requested j u r y "Neither the defendant, plaintiff fact Barbour the can be taken i n t o with i t s wealth, i s t h e a c c o u n t by amount o f damages o r c o u n t y o u g h t t o pay p l a i n t i f f 569-70. county, charge: nor the f a c t of the p o v e r t y or f a m i l y d i s t r e s s ... estimating that trial the j u r y , compensation for said injuries." which in the 48 A l a . a t In d o i n g so, the Court e x p l a i n e d : "Damages, i t i s s a i d , a r e i n t e n d e d as a p e c u n i a r y compensation t o the p a r t y wronged f o r the h u r t inflicted; t o be g r e a t o r s m a l l , i n p r o p o r t i o n t o the i n j u r y i t s e l f . ... And i t i s f o r t h e d i s a b l i n g 10 of 1120133 e f f e c t s of the i n j u r y , whether past o r p r o s p e c t i v e , t h a t the p l a i n t i f f i s e n t i t l e d t o compensation. ... Then, t h e j u r y may c o n s i d e r t h e e x p e n s e s o f t h e c u r e , and i f t h e i n j u r y i s i r r e m e d i a b l e , and w i l l n e c e s s a r i l y r e q u i r e future treatment and n u r s i n g , t h e p r o b a b l e c o s t s o f t h i s , a l s o , may be a d d e d ; s o , l i k e w i s e , t h e l o s s o f t i m e up t o t h e v e r d i c t , a n d the p r o b a b l e l o s s o f t i m e i n t h e f u t u r e , and t h e p a i n i n f l i c t e d upon t h e body. ... These a r e t h i n g s o f v a l u e , c a p a b l e o f p e c u n i a r y admeasurement, a n d w h i c h t h e p l a i n t i f f l o s e s by t h e i n j u r y , o r they a r e b u r d e n s i m p o s e d upon h i m b y t h e c o n d u c t o f t h e [ d e f e n d a n t ] , a g a i n s t t h e e f f e c t s o f w h i c h he i s entitled t o indemnity, so f a r as a pecuniary compensation can a f f o r d i t . But t h e w e a l t h o f t h e d e f e n d a n t , o r p o v e r t y o f t h e p l a i n t i f f , has n o t h i n g t o do w i t h t h e i r a s c e r t a i n m e n t . I t was, t h e r e f o r e , improper t o admit evidence of the wealth of the d e f e n d a n t i n t h e c o u r t b e l o w t o go t o t h e j u r y , o r to refuse to instruct t h e j u r y , when p r o p e r l y r e q u e s t e d , t h a t t h e d e f e n d a n t ' s w e a l t h c o u l d n o t be taken into consideration i n making up their verdict." 48 A l a . a t 577-78 707 (emphasis o m i t t e d ) . So. 2d 223, 225 long-standing ( A l a . 1997) Alabama of Under t h a t l a w , ' e v i d e n c e (quoting Southern L i f e & Health Co. v . Whitman, 358 So. 2d 1025, 1026 ( A l a . entitled turn to of a d m i s s i b i l i t y M o r e o v e r , we have a l s o made i t c l e a r t h a t are we i s h i g h l y p r e j u d i c i a l and, t h e r e f o r e , inadmissible [during t r i a l ] . ' " Ins. ("Accordingly, l a w on t h e i s s u e evidence of a defendant's wealth. of a defendant's w e a l t h See a l s o Ex p a r t e Hsu, t o t h e same fair 11 trial an 1978))). corporations individual would 1120133 receive. 280 I n C h r y s l e r C o r p . v. H a s s e l l , 291 A l a . 267, 272-73, So. 2d 102, 106 (1973), we e x p l a i n e d t h i s principle follows: "During closing argument, stated to the jury: counsel f o r appellee " ' T h i s i s what t h i s l a w s u i t i s a b o u t . L e t me tell you s o m e t h i n g about this c o r p o r a t i o n , l a d y a n d g e n t l e m e n . They keep t a l k i n g a b o u t Mr. P r e u i t t , Mr. P r e u i t t , Mr. P r e u i t t . J i m P r e u i t t , as an i n d i v i d u a l , i s not being sued. We have g o t two corporations here i n this case. Jim Preuitt Chrysler Corporation and t h e Chrysler Corporation i n Detroit. Think j u s t a m i n u t e a b o u t what a c o r p o r a t i o n i s , i f you w i l l . "'You a r e p e o p l e , I am p e o p l e , Mr. H a s s e l l [the p l a i n t i f f ] i s people. You have g o t b l o o d r u n n i n g t h r o u g h y o u r v e i n s and you have g o t a h e a r t b e a t i n g . I f you s t i c k y o u r f i n g e r , you b l e e d . One o f t h e s e d a y s , i t may be t o m o r r o w o r i t may be y e a r s f r o m now, b u t you a r e e v e r y one g o i n g t o die. I'm g o i n g t o d i e a n d Mr. H a s s e l l i s going to d i e . ' "Here, noted: an o b j e c t i o n was overruled and exception " ' [ A t t o r n e y f o r a p p e l l e e ] : And l a d y and g e n t l e m e n , when you d i e a n d when I d i e , we a r e g o i n g t o f a c e t h e same M a k e r . We a r e g o i n g t o a n s w e r f o r what we d i d on t h i s e a r t h . I'm g o i n g t o a n s w e r f o r what I d i d . Let me tell you something, l a d y and g e n t l e m e n . A c o r p o r a t i o n h a s no h e a r t , i t 12 as 1120133 has g o t no s o u l . I t h a s g o t no f e a r o f H e l l and Damnation i n t h e h e r e a f t e r . "'[Attorney f o r Chrysler Corp.]: Your Honor, we o b j e c t t o t h a t , t h a t i s h i g h l y p r e j u d i c i a l , i t i s intended f o r the purpose of making t h i s jury believe that the standard of j u s t i c e i s different for c o r p o r a t i o n s and a p e r s o n . "'[The c o u r t ] : I t i s s u s t a i n e d . feels that i s f a r a f i e l d . ' The c o u r t " T h i s a r g u m e n t was i m p r o p e r , h i g h l y p r e j u d i c i a l and was n o t r e l e v a n t t o any i s s u e s i n t h e c a s e . A c o r p o r a t i o n i s e n t i t l e d t o f a i r and e q u a l t r e a t m e n t i f i ti s a party to l i t i g a t i o n . In Commercial F i r e I n s . Co. v. A l l e n , 80 A l a . 5 7 1 , 1 So. 202 [ ( 1 8 8 7 ) ] , t h i s c o u r t , p e r Stone, C.J., h e l d t h a t a r e f e r e n c e t o t h e d e f e n d a n t as ' t h i s s o u l l e s s c o r p o r a t i o n ' i n c o n c l u d i n g argument o f c o u n s e l was ' o b j e c t i o n a b l e , and t h e c o u r t e r r e d i n n o t a r r e s t i n g t h a t l i n e o f a r g u m e n t , when t h e r e t o requested.'" See also Boone v. S t a t e , 170 A l a . 57, 62, 54 So. 109, 110 (1911) ("The f o u r t e e n t h amendment p r o v i d e s 'deny to any person within t h a t no s t a t e s h a l l i t s jurisdiction the equal p r o t e c t i o n of the laws.' That c o r p o r a t i o n s a r e persons w i t h i n the amendment meaning discussion."). of this is no longer open to Thus, i t w o u l d be i m p r o p e r f o r a j u r y t o h o l d t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r t o a d i f f e r e n t s t a n d a r d than the standard of j u s t i c e t o which i t h e l d Bennett merely because the Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r i s a c o r p o r a t i o n , a n d i t w o u l d l i k e w i s e 13 1120133 be i m p r o p e r f o r us t o assume prejudice. The t h a t a j u r y would e x h i b i t such amount o f any settlement in litigation is p r e s u m a b l y b a s e d l a r g e l y on t h e e x p e c t e d amount o f t h e v e r d i c t t h a t m i g h t be r e t u r n e d and, were we i f a c l a i m were t o p r o c e e d t o to accept Hand's argument that the trial, Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r ' s i n c l u s i o n as a d e f e n d a n t i n t h i s c a s e w o u l d have resulted in a higher settlement, we making t h a t assumption of p r e j u d i c e . Although directly considered on a effectively point, the Superior similar case i n Schenkel facts before Court caselaw of Pennsylvania v. M o n h e i t , 266 The S c h e n k e l c o u r t Pa. described i t as f o l l o w s : " B r i e f l y s t a t e d , t h e s e a r e t h e f a c t s upon w h i c h the i n s t a n t case i s based. On J a n u a r y 9, 1969, a p p e l l a n t was i n j u r e d i n an a u t o m o b i l e a c c i d e n t when h i s v e h i c l e was s t r u c k f r o m b e h i n d b y a c a r d r i v e n by one C h a r l e s S a l e m . A p p e l l a n t t h e r e a f t e r r e t a i n e d a p p e l l e e as h i s a t t o r n e y t o p r o s e c u t e appellant's c i v i l a c t i o n a g a i n s t Salem. When a p p e l l e e filed t h i s a c t i o n , he d i d n o t j o i n S a l e m ' s e m p l o y e r , W i n t z Brothers Construction Company, as defendants. A p p e l l a n t claims t h a t at the time of the a c c i d e n t , S a l e m was 'on t h e j o b ' and was w i t h i n t h e s c o p e o f h i s employment f o r W i n t z B r o t h e r s and t h a t W i n t z Brothers s h o u l d have been j o i n e d as defendants. Appellant's d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with appellee's handling of the p e r s o n a l injury action l e d appellant to 14 be We d e c l i n e t o do s o . t h e p a r t i e s have n o t i d e n t i f i e d A l a b a m a S u p e r . 396, 405 A.2d 493 ( 1 9 7 9 ) . the would 1120133 dismiss counsel appellee before trial t o complete the case." 266 P a . S u p e r . a t 397-98, awarded and retain 405 A . 2 d a t 493. other The a p p e l l a n t was $9,500 b y a j u r y i n h i s a c t i o n a g a i n s t thereafter appellee, filed a alleging legal-malpractice that the j u r y would have He against action Salem. the awarded him a larger v e r d i c t i n h i s p e r s o n a l - i n j u r y action i f the corporate employer had been j o i n e d as a d e f e n d a n t . c o u r t r e j e c t e d t h i s argument, The Pennsylvania stating: "In a p p e l l a n t ' s case, t h e f a i l u r e t o j o i n t h e corporate employer should n o t have affected a p p e l l a n t ' s damages. The t o r t was t h e same i n t h i s c a s e , w h e t h e r o r n o t t h e c o r p o r a t e e m p l o y e r was a p a r t y t o t h e a c t i o n . The a c t u a l t o r t f e a s o r , Salem, was made a d e f e n d a n t ; t h e c o r p o r a t e e m p l o y e r w o u l d o n l y a r g u a b l y be l i a b l e u n d e r a g e n c y p r i n c i p l e s , n o t as an i n d e p e n d e n t t o r t f e a s o r . Joinder of the c o r p o r a t e e m p l o y e r w o u l d s i m p l y have i n c r e a s e d t h e number o f p a r t i e s a g a i n s t whom a p p e l l a n t could e n f o r c e a n y judgment he r e c e i v e d . " 266 Pa. Super. a t 400, 405 A . 2 d a t 494. a p p l i e s i n t h e i n s t a n t c a s e as w e l l . This rationale The " t o r t was t h e same" w h e t h e r o r n o t t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r was a p a r t y t o t h e a c t i o n , and t h e s e t t l e m e n t the Montgomery Hand a g r e e d t o was i n f a c t p a i d b y Advertiser's insurer; thus, there i s no e v i d e n c e i n d i c a t i n g t h a t Hand was p r e j u d i c e d b y t h e f a i l u r e t o name t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r as a d e f e n d a n t . 15 Notably, this 1120133 is not a case satisfaction i n which of settlement based defendant; i t a the plaintiff judgment on the appears to or to was unable obtain judgment-proof be undisputed a to meaningful status that obtain of the Bennett c o v e r e d by t h e $5,000,000 T r a v e l e r s p o l i c y h e l d by G a n n e t t that most of the funds pursuant to that p o l i c y . for Hand's Accordingly, t o assume t h a t e i t h e r t h e s e t t l e m e n t have b e e n h i g h e r i f the settlement were paid o r any j u r y v e r d i c t would Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r were a Bennett. This previously speculate as i t will not named Court to a will as t o what v e r d i c t a j u r y m i g h t have r e a c h e d i n a c e r t a i n case i f t h a t c a s e had not b e e n s e t t l e d and r o s t e r o f d e f e n d a n t s had been augmented. v. LLB 3d 283, T i m b e r Co., to speculate has jury's r a t i o n a l e f o r r e a c h i n g a v e r d i c t ; f o r s i m i l a r r e a s o n s , we not s p e c u l a t e and i t i s mere s p e c u l a t i o n d e f e n d a n t i n Hand's a c t i o n a g a i n s t stated that was 70 So. t h a t the 288 1 See, ( A l a . 2011) i f the e.g., Clayton ("We decline j u r y r e a c h e d i t s v e r d i c t s o l e l y on the ^Moreover, although Hand a r g u e s that he ultimately r e c e i v e d l e s s i n h i s s e t t l e m e n t ($625,000) t h a n he s u f f e r e d i n a c t u a l damage ($872,500) and t h a t t h i s was a r e s u l t of counsel's f a i l u r e t o name t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r as a d e f e n d a n t , i t b e a r s e m p h a s i s t h a t i t was u l t i m a t e l y Hand's d e c i s i o n t o s e t t l e h i s c a s e and n o t p r e s e n t e v i d e n c e o f h i s damage t o a j u r y . 16 1120133 basis of evidence indicating that [the appellant] was malingering."). IV. The Roberts trial and court the Howell t h e y had c o m m i t t e d his action but a summary j u d g m e n t i n f a v o r f i r m i n Hand's a c t i o n alleging of that l e g a l m a l p r a c t i c e w h i l e r e p r e s e n t i n g him i n against indicating, entered only Bennett. Because speculation, there that i s no Hand w o u l d able to s e t t l e h i s i n j u r y claim f o r a higher evidence have b e e n amount i f R o b e r t s and t h e H o w e l l f i r m h a d a l s o named t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r as a d e f e n d a n t , arguments t h a t judgment i s hereby r a i s e d by the parties on affirmed. appeal are A l l other accordingly pretermitted. AFFIRMED. Moore, C . J . , and B o l i n and B r y a n , Murdock, J . , c o n c u r s i n the Parker, Shaw, and M a i n , J J . , concur. result. J J . , dissent. 17 1120133 MURDOCK, J u s t i c e ( c o n c u r r i n g i n t h e The p i v o t a l p o i n t following result). i n the main o p i n i o n a p p e a r s t o be the passage: "The 'tort was t h e same' w h e t h e r or not the Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r was a p a r t y t o t h e a c t i o n , and the s e t t l e m e n t [Tommy] Hand a g r e e d t o was i n f a c t p a i d by t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r ' s i n s u r e r ; t h u s , there i s no e v i d e n c e i n d i c a t i n g t h a t Hand was p r e j u d i c e d by t h e f a i l u r e t o name t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r as a d e f e n d a n t . " So. 3d a t this . passage statement. consider I agree w i t h the f i r s t statement i n c l u d e d i n (before As the semicolon), a m a t t e r of law, however, the l a t t e r s t a t e m e n t t o be f o l l o w the law, ... not the latter I b e l i e v e we must inapposite. As t h e m a i n o p i n i o n a p t l y n o t e s : juries will but "[W]e must presume t h a t and i t has l o n g b e e n t h e l a w i n t h i s S t a t e t h a t a j u r y must c a l c u l a t e damages b a s e d on t h e e v i d e n c e o f i n j u r y , n o t t h e i d e n t i t y o f t h e d e f e n d a n t and h i s or her presumed plaintiff's wealth." a c t u a l damage i s t h e named as a d e f e n d a n t . record So. in this case Further, with 3d at . same r e g a r d l e s s Here, o f who respect to the t o pay a judgment f o r t h e p l a i n t i f f ' s 18 is f o r a l l t h a t appears from the availability $5,000,000 l i a b i l i t y p o l i c y , t h e named d e f e n d a n t i s as able the of a fully a c t u a l damages as 1120133 w o u l d be any other defendant. As the "'[T]he f a i l u r e to j o i n the c o r p o r a t e affected So. 3d 396, appellant's at 400, l i g h t of the opinion A.2d foregoing, asserts) settlement S c h e n k e l v. 493, 494 would from a t r i a l . Monheit, (1979) 266 (emphasis have been Pa. In (as t h e main t o assume" t h a t reached i f Super. added)). e v e n i f i t w o u l d n o t be "mere s p e c u l a t i o n states: e m p l o y e r s h o u l d n o t have damages'" r e s u l t i n g (quoting 405 main o p i n i o n the a higher Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r had b e e n named as a d e f e n d a n t , we must c o n s i d e r s u c h d i f f e r e n c e t o be the plaintiff, settlement In a f u n c t i o n of the Tommy Hand, to voluntary even i f i t would assume t h a t a h i g h e r s e t t l e m e n t not choice by his resolve process r a t h e r than proceeding addition, any through a case to trial. be speculation to w o u l d have b e e n r e a c h e d i f t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r had b e e n named as a d e f e n d a n t , i t seems beyond peradventure speculation been. Again, as t o how me that much h i g h e r i t the would at settlement least be w o u l d have h o w e v e r , e v e n i f t h i s were n o t t r u e , i t w o u l d be improper f o r the for to r e a s o n s n o t e d above and i n the main opinion t h i s C o u r t t o b a s e i t s d e c i s i o n i n a c a s e s u c h as t h i s t h e n o t i o n t h a t a d i f f e r e n t s e t t l e m e n t was 19 on achieved because of 1120133 t h e p r o s p e c t t h a t a d i f f e r e n t j u d g m e n t f o r a c t u a l damage w o u l d have been awarded in a trial against a different d e f e n d a n t , a t l e a s t where t h e r e i s no d i f f e r e n c e ability of the p l a i n t i f f of shown i n t h e t o c o l l e c t such a judgment. 20 type 1120133 SHAW, J u s t i c e ( d i s s e n t i n g ) . I there respectfully dissent. i s no e v i d e n c e Hand, "was p r e j u d i c e d The m a i n opinion i n d i c a t i n g that by t h e f a i l u r e states the p l a i n t i f f , that Tommy t o name t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r as a d e f e n d a n t " a n d t h a t " i t i s mere s p e c u l a t i o n t o assume t h a t e i t h e r the settlement have b e e n h i g h e r i f t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r d e f e n d a n t i n Hand's a c t i o n a g a i n s t 3d at . I disagree speculation," o r any j u r y v e r d i c t w o u l d because that were a named [Julie] Bennett." So. s u c h a s s u m p t i o n s w o u l d be "mere the record s u b s t a n t i a l evidence t o substantiate before us contains both. A l t h o u g h I a g r e e t h a t we c a n n o t assume t h a t a j u r y w o u l d have a w a r d e d Hand more damages s i m p l y b e c a u s e o f t h e presence o f t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r a s a d e f e n d a n t , as n o t e d i n t h e main o p i n i o n damage there amounted i s e v i d e n c e i n d i c a t i n g t h a t Hand's a c t u a l to at least b e l i e v e d by a j u r y a t t r i a l , verdict ... h i g h e r " Nevertheless, awarded more settlement $872,500. the p o s s i b i l i t y than evidence, i f would have r e s u l t e d i n a " j u r y than the settlement damages This that amount. t h e j u r y would t h e amount i s o f no c o n s e q u e n c e . 21 Instead, achieved there have i n the i s evidence 1120133 here, through the a f f i d a v i t s that the settlement Advertiser between been $1 and value named attorneys, i n d i c a t i n g of the case, a party, million, $1.2 as o f Hand's which had the w o u l d have i s more t h a n Montgomery amounted the a c t u a l settlement amount. I see n o t h i n g i n the m a t e r i a l s before l e a d i n g me to c a l l into question those to opinion, believe, contrary the main affidavits. that to us I thus there was s u b s t a n t i a l e v i d e n c e " i n d i c a t i n g ... t h a t Hand w o u l d have been a b l e t o s e t t l e h i s i n j u r y c l a i m f o r a h i g h e r amount i f ... t h e Montgomery A d v e r t i s e r So. 3d a t purportedly . [had a l s o b e e n named] as a d e f e n d a n t . " I would thus address the remaining supporting the t r i a l issues c o u r t ' s summary j u d g m e n t b u t the d i s c u s s i o n o f w h i c h t h e main o p i n i o n says i s p r e t e r m i t t e d . 22