Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's legal malpractice complaint against Defendants, her attorneys, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in granting Defendants' motions to dismiss and finding that Plaintiff failed to plead facts sufficient to toll the running of the statute of limitations on fraudulent concealment.Plaintiff retained Defendants to file negligence lawsuit. Defendants later informed Plaintiff they had committed malpractice by serving a deficient summons. Plaintiff subsequently filed a legal malpractice lawsuit alleging that Defendants fraudulently concealed their malpractice by keeping the appearance that Plaintiff's lawsuit was still alive. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to allege fraudulent concealment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) silence amounts to a positive act of fraud when there is a confidential or fiduciary relationship; and (2) Plaintiff's complaint pled sufficient facts to establish fraudulent concealment and survive a motion to dismiss. View "Nichols v. Swindoll" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court awarding attorneys' fees after a medical doctor sued and lost against a hospital following its revocation of the doctor's medical staff and surgical privileges, holding that the circuit court did not err or abuse its discretion.Doctor, a surgeon, sued Hospital after his termination stemming from allegations that Doctor provided care that fell short of standard surgical practice. After a remand, all of Doctor's claims were dismissed. Thereafter, the circuit court awarded Hospital attorneys' fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the motion for attorneys' fees was timely filed; and (2) Doctor was not entitled to relief on his remaining allegations of error. View "Williams v. Baptist Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's legal malpractice complaint against Appellees, her attorneys, and finding that there were no facts in the complaint sufficient to toll the running of the statute of limitations based on fraudulent concealment, holding that there was no error.In the motion to dismiss, Appellees argued that Appellant's malpractice claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations and should be dismissed. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case and finding there were no facts contained in the complaint sufficient to toll the running of the statute of limitations based on fraudulent concealment. View "Nichols v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court rescinded an earlier decision to answer a certified question of law certified by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, holding that certification was improvidently granted.Plaintiff filed suit in the district court seeking to recover corrective fees it incurred in the underlying case. The district court concluded that Plaintiff could not establish proximate cause under Arkansas law and denied the motion. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. On remand, the district court certified a question of law regarding proximate cause in a legal malpractice action and corrective fees. The Supreme Court accepted the question of law. The Court then exercised its discretion to rescind its decision to answer the questioned question because the Eighth Circuit had already addressed the issue involved in the certified question presented to the Supreme Court. View "Gerber Products Co. v. Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying relief in this Administrative Procedure Act (APA) appeal of the Colonel William J. Bryant's denial of Appellant's application to obtain a license for his private security and investigations company, holding that there was no error.Col. Bryant, in his capacity as director of the Arkansas State Police, entered an administrative order finding that Appellant was ineligible to receive a license due to his prior convictions. Appellant filed a petition for judicial review. After a remand, the circuit court denied the petition finding that there was substantial evidence to support the agency's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant cited no authority for the proposition that it was reversible error for the circuit court to decide an APA appeal on a different ground than that found by the administrative agency; and (2) the director did not err in determining that Ark. Code Ann. 17-40-306 controlled over Ark. Code Ann. 17-1-103. View "Hackie v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted the petition brought by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission claiming that Judge Carroll violated several rules of the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct, including breaching his duty to the public and undermining the fair and impartial administration of justice, holding that disciplinary action was required.In its petition, the Commission agreed to recommend a suspension without pay for ninety days, with thirty days held in abeyance for one year, and certain remedial measures for Judge Carroll's improprieties. The Supreme Court granted the Commission's expedited petition and modified the recommendation sanction by suspending Judge Carroll without pay for eighteen months, with six of those months held in abeyance. The Court further ordered Judge Carroll to perform an assessment and complete a plan with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, holding that, given the seriousness of the conduct at issue, the length of the recommended suspension was insufficient. View "Ark. Judicial Discipline & Disability Comm'n v. Carroll" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a petition sought by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission for expedited consideration and report of uncontested sanction following its investigation of complaints against Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne, holding that Judge Bourne's conduct warranted sanctions.Several complaints involving two counts were filed against Judge Bourne involving his conduct toward unrepresented litigants. Judge Bourne did not contest either count, waived a formal disciplinary hearing, and accepted the investigatory panel's recommended sanction of suspension without pay for ninety days, with seventy-five days held in abeyance for one year. The commission accepted the recommended sanction. The Supreme Court suspended Judge Bourne from the bench without pay for ninety days with seventy-five days held in abeyance if he agrees to, among other things, never again to hold judicial office after his current term expires, ordering that the mandate shall issue immediately. View "Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Bourne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted the findings of fact by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission and its recommendation that the Court suspend the Honorable Barry Sims of the Sixth Judicial District, Seventh Division, from his duties based on certain misconduct, holding that suspension was warranted.The report of uncontested sanction arose from complaints lodged against Judge Sims concerning his courtroom comments and conduct toward members of the Bar. Judge Sims agreed that sanction of suspension was appropriate. The Supreme Court accepted the recommendation of suspension and suspended Judge Sims from his duties without pay for thirty days with an additional sixty days suspended on the condition that he performs certain remedial actions. View "Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Sims" on Justia Law

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The Arkansas State Medical Board found Dr. Mahmood Ahmad in violation of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act. While Ahmad’s administrative appeal was pending in the circuit court, Ahmad filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the Board and the Board’s chairman (collectively, the Board), alleging that portions of the Chronic Intractable Pain Treatment Act and certain Board regulations were unconstitutional. The Board moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that, because Ahmad’s exclusive remedy was an administrative appeal of the Board’s order, Ahmad’s complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief was barred as a matter of law. Ahmad responded by filing a motion for temporary restraining order seeking an order prohibiting the Board from pursuing any administrative action against him until both his administrative appeal and his declaratory and injunctive action were concluded. The circuit court granted the Board’s motion to dismiss and denied Ahmad’s motion for a restraining order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in dismissing Ahmad’s complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying, on jurisdictional grounds, Ahmad’s request for a temporary restraining order. View "Ahmad v. Beck" on Justia Law

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Developers purchased forty acres with the intent to develop it. Appellants secured a mortgage on the property with a bank. Later Developers formed a municipal property owners' district (the District). Law Firm was retained by the District as legal counsel for the proposed issuance of improvement bonds to finance public improvements in the development. At issue in this case were certain bonds issued by the District that were sold to several banks (Appellants). Developer defaulted on payment of the capital improvement use fees on the bonds and subsequently defaulted on the original mortgage, and the property was sold. Appellants sued Law Firm, alleging that Law Firm had a duty to inform Appellants of the mortgage on the real property and that it failed to inform them. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Law Firm. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly found Law Firm was not liable under the Arkansas Security Act; (2) erred in granting judgment on the issue of attorney malpractice; and (3) correctly found Law Firm had no duty to Appellants under contract, negligence, or breach of a fiduciary duty. View "First Ark. Bank & Trust v. Gill Elrod Ragon Owen & Sherman, P.A." on Justia Law