New Legal Developments

Statute of Limitations — Attorney Malpractice

Flake v. Neumiller & Beardslee (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 223

This is the sort of case that will be mis-quoted and mis-applied for years to come.
Attorney represented Client in a suit against Defendants. Client lost, and there was a judgment rendered in favor of Defendants.
Later, Attorney filed and served a motion to withdraw, on the grounds that the attorney-client relationship had ended, Attorney represented to the court that the motion would be unopposed. Two months later, having received no opposition, the court granted the motion. CCP 340.6 prescribes a 1-year statute of limitations for malpractice actions. Client sued Attorney for malpractice within 1-year before the motion to withdraw was granted, but more than 1-year after the motion had been made.
Held: Action time-barred. Even though the grant of a motion to withdraw is a bright-line point at which the authorities agree an attorney-client relationship has ended, here, there were other unrebutted objective indicia that the relationship ended before the filing of the motion.
Careful and timely communication won the day for the Attorney in this case.