Simms v. SeamanAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff and Spouse divorced in 1979. In postdissolution proceedings during which Plaintiff sought modification of the alimony award, Spouse was represented by several different attorneys (Defendants). All defendants failed to disclose the true financial circumstances of Spouse. In 2008, the trial court ruled that information concerning Spouse's inheritance had been concealed from Plaintiff, causing Plaintiff to incur more than $400,000 in legal expenses and other costs. Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint against Defendants for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The superior court rendered judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that such claims against attorneys for conduct that occurred during judicial proceedings were barred as a matter of law by the doctrine of absolute immunity. The appellate court affirmed, determining that the claims were precluded by the litigation privilege. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the appellate court properly determined that attorneys are protected by the litigation privilege against claims of fraud for their conduct during judicial proceedings; and (2) therefore, Plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, which was derivative of his claim of fraud, was also properly rejected.