Osborne v. KeeneyAnnotate this Case
While Brenda Osborne was at home alone, an airplane pilot crashed his airplane into Osborne's home. Osborne subsequently hired Attorney to assist her recovering her losses from the pilot, but when the lawsuit was finally filed, the federal court dismissed the action as barred by limitations. Osborne filed this action against Attorney asserting breach of contract, legal malpractice, and fraud and deceit. A jury found in favor of Osborne, resulting in a judgment against Attorney in excess of $5 million. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment in part but vacated a large portion of the damage award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court properly tried this case using the suit-within-a-suit method but erred when it failed to instruct the jury on Pilot's negligence, thus resulting in Osborne's failure to establish that Attorney's malpractice proximately caused her loss; (2) emotional-distress plaintiffs must first satisfy the elements of a general negligence claim; and (3) punitive damages are not recoverable against an attorney in a legal malpractice case.