Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada

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Tower Homes, LLC retained William Heaton and his law firm (collectively, Heaton) for legal guidance in developing a residential common ownership project. The project eventually failed, and Tower Homes entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The plan of reorganization and confirmation order stated that the trustee and bankruptcy estate retained all legal claims. The trustee subsequently entered into a stipulation with a group of creditors (collectively, the Creditors) permitting the Creditors to pursue any legal malpractice claims in the Tower Homes’ name. The bankruptcy court then entered an order authorizing the trustee to permit the Creditors to pursue Tower Homes’ legal malpractice claim in Tower Homes’ name. The Creditors subsequently filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against Heaton, naming Tower Homes as plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Heaton, concluding that the stipulation and order constituted an impermissible assignment of a legal malpractice claim to the Creditors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the stipulation and order constituted an assignment, which is prohibited under Nevada law; and (2) the Creditors may bring a debtor’s legal malpractice claim pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 1123(b)(3)(B) when certain conditions are met, but those conditions were not met in this case. View "Tower Homes, LLC v. Heaton" on Justia Law

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Jorgenson & Koka, LLP (J&K) filed this professional negligence action against the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) and real parties in interest PWREO Eastern and St. Rose LLC (collectively, PWREO) and the City of Henderson. J&K, which leased a portion of a shopping center owned by PWREO, alleging that water entered its premises on two separate occasions and that NDOT failed to prevent the flooding. PWREO filed a cross-claim against NDOT and the City. NDOT moved to dismiss the amended complaint and the cross-claim for failure to comply with the mandatory filing requirements of Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.258. The district court denied the motions. This petition for writ relief followed. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that NDOT is not a design professional as envisioned by the legislature in Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.2565(1)(a), and therefore, the requirements of section 11.258 are inapplicable to NDOT since the action would not statutorily qualify as “an action involving nonresidential construction.” View "Nev. Dep’t of Transp. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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Real parties in interest filed a professional negligence action against several healthcare providers. All defendants settled except for Petitioners. During pretrial proceedings, real parties in interest filed a motion in limine to bar Petitioners from arguing the comparative fault of the settled defendants at trial and including those defendants’ names on jury verdict forms. The district court granted the motion. Petitioners subsequently asked the Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the district court to allow Petitioners to argue the comparative fault of the settled defendants and to include those defendants’ names on the jury verdict form for the purpose of allocating liability among all defendants. At issue before the Supreme Court was Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.045, which makes healthcare provider defendants severally liable in professional negligence actions for economic and noneconomic damages. The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus, holding that the provision of several liability found in section 41A.045 entitles a defendant in a healthcare provider professional negligence action to argue the percentage of fault of settled defendants and to include the settled defendants’ names on applicable jury verdict forms where the jury could conclude that the settled defendants’ negligence caused some or all of the plaintiff’s injury. View "Piroozi v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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Respondent brought an action against Appellant for professional negligence relating to services that Appellant performed for Respondent. After Respondent filed a demand for arbitration, Appellant submitted what it claimed to be two statutory offers of judgment. Respondent did not accept either offer. A panel of arbitrators subsequently ruled in favor of Appellant. The order stated that each party would bear its own fees and costs. Appellant filed a motion in the district court to correct the arbitration award to order Respondent to pay Appellant’s attorney fees. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the award of fees and costs by an arbitrator is discretionary even after an offer of judgment is made, Appellant did not demonstrate that the arbitrator manifestly disregarded Nevada law by refusing to award it fees and costs. View "WPH Architecture, Inc. v. Vegas VP, LP" on Justia Law