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Negligence of Lawyer in a Real Estate Partition; Dismissal of Legal Malpractice Affirmed

Britton v. Hohman, A14-0912, December 29, 2014, former client Britton sued Defendant attorney, alleging negligence in the handling of an underlying real estate matter in which Britton had been sued for partition of real estate by a contract for deed vendee.  After trial court granted partition in favor of the vendee in the underlying matter, Britton appealed claiming that the contract vendee lacked standing to seek remedy of partition.  Britton lost appeal when appellate court held that appeal had not been filed in a timely manner.

Trial court granted dismissal of the malpractice action, holding that Britton could not show that a timely appeal would have been successful. The Court of appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling that the vendee in the underlying contract for deed had sufficient interest in the real estate to seek partition.  Specifically, the appellate court held that even if Britton’s former lawyer had appealed in a timely manner, the appeal would not have succeeded.  As a consequence, the Defendant lawyer’s alleged negligence was not the cause of his former client’s failure to prevail in the partition action.