Knopick v. Connelly, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5586 (M.D.Pa. Jan. 25, 2010)

The statute of limitations in professional malpractice actions accrues at the time the malpractice occurs, not when the court issues an unfavorable decision.

The plaintiff was represented by his former attorneys at a hearing to invalidate a Property Settlement Agreement he entered into with his wife. At the hearing, the plaintiff claimed that his former attorneys failed to call relevant witnesses, which subsequently caused the court to invalidate the agreement. The plaintiff hired the defendant-attorney to pursue a legal malpractice case against his former attorneys, but the defendant-attorney declined on the basis that such claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations applicable to claims of negligence. The plaintiff then sued the defendant-attorney for failing to file suit against his former attorneys. The court held that the defendant-attorney properly exercised reasonable care and was correct that the statute of limitations against the former attorneys had run by the time the defendant-attorney was retained. The statute of limitations in claims of legal malpractice under Pennsylvania law begins to run when the legal malpractice "occurs" which, in that case, occurred at the time of the hearing, not at the time the court issued a decision to invalidate the Property Settlement Agreement.

Case Law Alert - 2nd Qtr 2010