Lewis v. Pietragallo Bosick & Gordon, LLP, No. 1650 WDA 2012 (Pa. Super. 2013)

Law firm not liable for breach of contract because plaintiff caused law firm’s contract breach.

On December 5, 2013, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, in a Memorandum Opinion, affirmed a trial judge’s order granting a defendant law firm judgment notwithstanding the verdict on a legal malpractice claim brought by the law firm’s former client under a breach of contract theory because the client was found to have caused the law firm’s contract breach. The plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim was premised on the defendant law firm’s alleged breach of contract for allegedly failing to render legal services in accordance with the profession at large. At trial, the jury found the law firm liable for breach of contract; however, the Superior Court held that the law firm could not be held liable under the circumstances as a matter of law. In sum, the Superior Court concluded that the client was the cause of the law firm’s contract breach because he failed to properly review materials sent to him by the law firm. This conclusion is similar to a finding that a client’s contributory negligence serves as a bar to a legal malpractice claim premised on an attorney’s alleged negligence.


Case Law Alert, 1st Quarter 2014