Collins Einhorn attorneys Theresa M. Asoklis, Michael J. Cook, and Jonathan B. Koch successfully defended a legal-malpractice action against a lawyer-guardian ad litem with a statutory-immunity defense.
The legal-malpractice action arose out of termination-of-parental-rights proceedings in which the defendant was appointed as a lawyer-guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the plaintiff, a minor. Although the court initially terminated the plaintiff’s father’s parental rights, it subsequently restored them based on a significant change in the law by the Michigan Supreme Court. The father then sued the defendant on his child’s behalf.
Collins Einhorn attorneys raised an absolute-immunity defense based on a section of Michigan’s Governmental Tort Liability Act. Because the trial court agreed that the statute applied to lawyer-guardians ad litem, it granted the motion.
On appeal, a majority of the Court of Appeals issued a published opinion affirming summary disposition for the defendant. The majority agreed that lawyer-guardians ad litem are statutorily immune from civil liability when acting in the scope of their authority as lawyer-guardians ad litem. The panel emphasized that a lawyer-guardian ad litem falls within the dictionary definition of “guardian ad litem” and serves the same essential purpose in child protective proceedings. Because the plaintiff’s allegations all related to actions that the defendant took while acting in his role as a lawyer-guardian ad litem, summary disposition was appropriate.
To read the majority opinion in its entirety, click here.