Sternberg v. Lechman-Su

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 05-28-2015
  • Case #: A151370
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hadlock, J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; & Tookey, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A claim for professional negligence may not be dismissed as time-barred where a question of fact remains regarding whether the claim accrued within the time allowed under the statute of limitations.

Plaintiff filed a malpractice claim against her former attorney for alleged negligence in her dissolution of marriage case. Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint under ORCP 54 B(1) for failure to comply with a court order to amend her complaint to include more specific dates she had learned of the elements of her claim against Defendant, and ORCP 21 because Plaintiff failed to comply with court orders, failed to state facts sufficient to state a claim for relief, and the claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff and Defendant engaged in a series of motions to dismiss and amended complaints, and the trial court eventually entered a general judgment of dismissal. On appeal, Plaintiff asserted her third amended complaint did state a claim and was not barred by the statute of limitations. The Court determined whether any of Plaintiff's claims of negligence stated a claim for legal malpractice that was not barred by the statute of limitations, in this case two years from the date Plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known facts necessary for her to support her right to judgment. Plaintiff argued she did not begin to learn of the harm resulting from Defendant's negligence until the dissolution judgment had been signed, just under two years from the date she filed the original complaint. The Court held that several of Plaintiff's 49 specifications of negligence stated a claim that at least raised a question of fact whether Plaintiff had been harmed by any of Defendant's actions within the two-year period prior to filing the complaint. Reversed and remanded.

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