Pete v. AndersonAnnotate this Case
Following the death of their father in an accident in which the van he was driving struck a retaining wall, Appellees retained a law firm and attorneys (collectively, Appellants) to pursue a wrongful death action against the company charged with maintaining the van. The circuit court dismissed the suit after the defendant successfully excluded two of the plaintiffs' expert witnesses. Two years later, Appellees filed a professional negligence action against Appellants. The trial court granted Appellants' motion for summary judgment, finding that Appellees were not in privity with Appellants and thus lacked standing to sue for professional negligence. The court of appeals reversed, concluding (1) there was a material factual issue in dispute as to whether Appellees were represented by Appellants or were led to believe they were being represented by them, and (2) even if there was no privity, the children were owed professional duties because they were the intended beneficiaries of the underlying wrongful death action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there were issues of material fact regarding the attorney-client relationship; and (2) the attorneys owed duties to the children, who were real parties in interest to the wrongful death action.