Yager v. ClausonAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff-client James Yager appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to defendant-attorney K. William Clauson on the client’s legal malpractice claim and dismissing that claim as to defendant-law firm Clauson, Atwood & Spaneas. The client’s legal malpractice claim stems from the defendants’ representation of him in two timber trespass actions. In the first action, summary judgment was granted to Mighty Oaks, in part, because the client failed to prove that Mighty Oaks was the entity that cut the timber. In the second action, summary judgment was granted to D.H. Hardwick & Sons, Inc. because the action had been filed more than three years after the timber cutting had ceased and, thus, was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The client filed the instant malpractice action against the defendants alleging that the applicable standard of care was breached because the Hardwick action was not timely filed. In this case, the trial court concluded that a legal expert was necessary for the plaintiff to prove “what result should have occurred” had the Hardwick action been timely filed. The client argues that this was error because he could have used the “trial-within-a-trial” method to prove this. After review, the Supreme Court held that, to the extent that the trial court determined that the trial-within-a-trial method was unavailable to the client, as a matter of law, the trial court erred. The Court found no error with regard to dismissal of claims against the defendant law firm. The case was remanded for further proceedings.