A divorcing husband retained an attorney to represent him in a divorce. The client’s goals were to resolve the divorce issues (property and child support) amicably and with little cost. The couple’s marital estate included several business interests, one of which had substantial value. The spouses agreed that the business interests would be split and they would remain equal partners after the divorce. The settlement agreement was drafted by the lawyers and the divorce finalized. The business interests were assigned on a 50/50 basis.
Two years later, the parties’ business relationship broke down. A show cause motion was filed and new attorneys were hired to attempt to resolve the dispute. A mediator told the ex-husband that this was “the worst divorce he had ever seen.” Based on that comment, the ex-husband retained malpractice counsel who sued his divorce lawyer claiming the divorce settlement was unfair and lopsided in his ex-wife’s favor. Collins Einhorn Professional Liability attorneys Theresa Asoklis and James Hunter represented the lawyer in the legal-malpractice case.
Following discovery, a motion for summary disposition was filed which argued that the plaintiff’s claims were barred under the attorney-judgment rule and because plaintiff could not show proximate cause—that his ex-wife would have accepted a less-favorable settlement or that he could have done better had he taken the case to trial. The Oakland County Circuit Court judge granted the motion for summary disposition on both of the defense arguments. The plaintiff did not appeal.