Attorneys Gene Libby and Keith Richard recently prevailed in an appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court. The appeal was briefed and argued by Attorney Richard and this represents his first win at the Court. The appeal was from a 2018 jury verdict in their client’s favor on claims for legal malpractice arising out of a negligently handled divorce. The judgment exceeds $120,000, including costs and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.
The decision should be read closely by attorneys that handle professional liability matters, as well as family law practitioners. The underlying case speaks to the standard of care for attorneys that represent clients in divorce and family matters. For plaintiffs’ lawyers and the insurance defense bar, this decision represents the most recent and authoritative pronouncement of the law of legal malpractice, specifically the element of proximate cause. Although recent decisions from the Court had affirmed summary judgments entered in favor of attorneys on causation grounds, this marks one of the first legal malpractice cases upheld by the Court in years.