Cantey Hanger, LLP v. Byrd (Opinion)Annotate this Case
At issue in this case was the scope of attorneys’ immunity from civil liability to non-clients. Philip Byrd and Nancy Simenstad commenced divorce proceedings. Simenstad was represented in the proceedings by Cantey Hanger, LLP. The parties eventually settled. The decree awarded Simenstad three aircraft as her separate property, including a Piper Seminole that had been owned by Lucy Leasing, Co., LLC. Byrd and two of the companies awarded to Byrd in the decree later sued Simenstad and Cantey Hanger alleging that after the decree was entered, Defendants falsified a bill of sale transferring the Piper Seminole from Lucy Leasing to a third party in order to shift tax liability for the aircraft to Byrd in contravention of the divorce decree. The trial court granted summary judgment to Cantey Hanger on attorney-immunity grounds. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the firm’s alleged misconduct was unrelated to the divorce litigation and that the firm had not conclusively established its entitlement to immunity. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment, holding that Canter Hanger conclusively established that it is immune from civil liability to Plaintiffs, and therefore, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment was proper.