Court of Appeal Rejects Limitations Tolling Argument in Legal Malpractice Case

Pettit Kohn Professional Liability AttorneysPettit Kohn Prevails on Appeal – Court of Appeal Rejects Tolling Argument in Legal Malpractice Case

The Second District Court of Appeal, in a published decision Shaoxing City et al. v. Keehn & Associates, APC, Case No. B256988, affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Pettit Kohn’s clients on the basis that the one-year statute of limitations barred the plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim arising out of a bankruptcy petition. The Court of Appeal ruled that the statute was triggered when the negligence allegedly occurred, not when the underlying case settled. The plaintiff hired new attorneys and settled its case for an amount less than the full amount of the debt owed to it in the bankruptcy petition. According to court documents, the plaintiff filed the legal malpractice action less than one year after it settled but more than a year after Pettit Kohn’s clients allegedly missed the deadline to contest a creditor’s lien and after the plaintiff hired new attorneys.

The questions decided by the Court of Appeal developed the analysis regarding two of the exclusions of the tolling provision found in Code of Civil Procedure section 340.6, the statute of limitations governing legal malpractice claims. Specifically, the Court of Appeal analyzed whether the statute of limitations was tolled due to alleged “continuous representation” or a date when “actual injury” arose. Based on the significance of the Court of Appeal’s analysis in this case, the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel (ASCDC) submitted a request for publication of the decision. ASCDC is the nation’s largest regional organization of lawyers devoted to defending civil actions. The Court of Appeal’s decision was published on July 21, 2015.

Pettit Kohn’s attorneys Douglas A. Pettit, Valerie Garcia Hong, and Matthew C. Smith represented the clients in this case. Pettit Kohn prevailed in the Los Angeles Superior Court on the motion for summary judgment. Pettit Kohn’s professional liability team has extensive experience representing attorneys, accountants, real estate brokers and agents, healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, insurance brokers and agents, and other professionals against claims of professional malpractice and intentional torts. The firm is approved as panel counsel for the California State Bar insurance program and the San Diego County Bar insurance program, and has represented some of California’s preeminent attorneys and law firms.

Pettit is listed in Best Lawyers for a sixth consecutive year and was named the 2015 Defendants’ Legal Malpractice “Lawyer of the Year” in San Diego. Additionally, he is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Hong co-chairs the firm’s Appellate practice and was selected for inclusion on Super Lawyers’ San Diego Rising Stars list in 2015. Smith has served as lead counsel or co-counsel in more than a dozen trials and arbitrations.

Click the link to view the Shaoxing Published Decision.