Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
by
H&H Development, LLC hired Jim Ramlow for legal services. In 2007, H&H filed a pro se complaint in Lake County against Ramlow and his law firm for professional negligence. Eleven days later, H&H, through counsel, filed a complaint in Flathead County against Eagle Bend, seeking damages based on allegations similar to those in the Lake County complaint. H&H settled with Eagle Bend. In 2010, H&H filed an amended Flathead County complaint that named Ramlow and his firm as defendants and included a lawyer's signature. The district court subsequently declared the Lake County complaint null and void after determining that a non-lawyer could not file a complaint on behalf of a limited liability company. Thereafter, the court granted summary judgment to Defendants on the amended complaint based upon the running of the applicable statute of limitations. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a district court has discretion to determine whether a corporation should be able to relate back to an amended complaint signed by a lawyer, to its original, pro se complaint. Remanded to assess whether Mont. R. Civ. P. 15(c) permitted H&H's amended complaint in Flathead County to relate back to H&H's pro se Lake County complaint. View "H & H Dev., LLC v. Ramlow" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner filed a petition for dissolution in district court and the only contested issue between the parties was the valuation and division of the marital home and surrounding acreage, which was purchased for $45,000 in the mid-1990's. Petitioner had obtained a letter from a realtor stating that the marital home could be worth approximately $250,000-275,000 if the home was in good condition. At issue was whether the district court abused its discretion when it denied petitioner's M.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6) motion, which was filed after the district court found the marital home was valued at $22,423, where petitioner alleged that her attorney grossly neglected her case when she failed to identify the realtor as an expert, or any other qualified real estate expert, and failed to prepare any evidence for trial to reflect petitioner's estimated value of the marital home. The court held that under the unique circumstances, where the district court had a statutory obligation to equitably apportion the marital estate and petitioner's counsel totally failed to present evidence on the issue, the district court abused its discretion in denying her Rule 60(b)(6) motion and should have granted the motion, thereby allowing her to present evidence regarding the value of the marital home so that the district court could make an equitable distribution. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.