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Woods v. Hill

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 03-07-2012
Case #: A143387
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/sites/Publications/A143387.pdf

Tort Law: As a matter of law, a defendant may not avoid liability for his negligence by asserting a subsequent appeal should never have happened.

Plaintiff-client (Woods) appeals a motion for summary judgment in favor of defendant-attorney (Hill) in a malpractice action. Hill had originally represented the client in his divorce, which was sent to court-mandated arbitration. Woods contends Hill stipulated to binding, but appealable arbitration without approval. Upon appeal, the trial court entered judgment on the arbitration award. Plaintiff appealed and the Court of Appeals held the stipulated arbitration was ineffective. After several appeals, Woods acting pro se successfully received his trial. Afterwards, he sued Hill for malpractice to recover damages resulting from the lengthy appeals process to get that trial. The trial court in the malpractice action concluded that, because the original motion for a trial de novo was not timely filed; there should have been no appeal, and thus no damages. Woods cites as error the conclusion that the trial court disregarded the damages that did occur. The Court of Appeals agreed, finding that a jury could have found Hill was responsible for the delay and thus was responsible for the damages that resulted. Reversed and remanded.