Harkness v. PlattenAnnotate this Case
This appeal arose from a legal malpractice and negligent misrepresentation case where the trial court judgment granted a directed a verdict in favor of defendant Jack Platten. In an earlier lawsuit, defendant had represented plaintiffs the Harknesses against Kantor, a loan officer, and her successive employers, Sunset Mortgage (Sunset) and Directors Mortgage, Inc. (Directors), as the result of a fraudulent investment and loan scheme directed at plaintiffs by Kantor. That case did not settle to plaintiffs’ satisfaction, and plaintiffs sought to recover their remaining loss from defendant. In this case, the trial court granted defendant’s motion for a directed verdict based on the conclusion that plaintiffs’ liability theories of apparent authority and respondeat superior asserted against Sunset and Directors were not supported by sufficient evidence in the record and could not have led to a result more favorable than the settlement. Plaintiffs appealed the trial court ruling, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals interpreted the prevailing caselaw incorrectly, and that a reasonable factfinder could have inferred from the evidence presented that defendants authorized the investment scheme. The court reversed the directed verdict and remanded the case for further proceedings.