Ward Law, LLC is excited to announce that thanks to the stellar defense by Of Counsel Mark Stephenson, the Pennsylvania Superior Court unanimously affirmed summary judgment, dismissing legal malpractice claims brought by a Montgomery County couple against a prominent Main Line law firm.
The court held that a prior settlement agreement that resolved related litigation covered the firm and its general release barred Plaintiff’s claims against the firm from proceeding. This decision was the result of litigation dating back to 2013 when Plaintiff sued his sibling alleging minority oppression and force-out regarding ownership of the family’s businesses. At the same time, the couple sued the firm, alleging malpractice in failing to disclose that the firm had provided estate planning work to Plaintiff’s two siblings and drafted a new operating agreement for a family business. When a sibling member died, the other sibling became his personal representative, required to offer the deceased sibling’s ownership interest for sale to the other members. That sibling sold the interest to themselves and then required Plaintiff to sell his interest to the majority shareholder. Plaintiff sued in state court and settled his claims in a highly detailed agreement that released certain named parties and, among other persons, all “attorneys.”
Mark Stephenson moved for summary judgment in the trial court, successfully persuading the court to find that the plain language of the general release barred Plaintiff’s malpractice claims and that Plaintiff had failed to show a mutual mistake that would change that result. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s finding that the release barred Plaintiff’s claims. It then found that Plaintiff had waived any argument regarding what deposition evidence the trial court may have considered. Plaintiff had argued in the trial court and on appeal that neither his sibling nor he had ever thought the term “attorneys” in the 2014 general release included the law firm. Looking at the evidence Plaintiff offered to support his mutual mistake defense, the court held it to be insufficient.
We are grateful for Mark’s professional liability expertise, extensive knowledge and dedication to our clients. Ward Law represents and defends the interests of professionals regarding claims of malpractice with a focus on legal, architects and engineers, real estate and other licensed professions.