FCS Cap. LLC v. Thomas, No. CV 20-5580, 2022 WL 102748 (E.D. Pa. 2022) (J. Kenney)

Punitive damages awarded against attorney in legal malpractice action where attorney found to be derelict in providing representation to client.

The trial court, in a rare action, granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs in this legal malpractice action, finding that reasonable minds could not disagree that the defendant attorney had committed malpractice sounding in both negligence and breach of contract. The defendant attorney represented the plaintiffs in defense against claims of violations of the Telephone Consumers Protection Act of 1991. The defendant attorney failed to respond to discovery requests, including requests for admission, on behalf of his clients. The defendant then failed to respond to a motion for summary judgment, despite that several extensions were granted to respond to the motion. The motion was granted and judgment entered in favor of the underlying plaintiffs. The defendant attorney did not timely move for reconsideration and did not timely appeal. The underlying defendants paid the judgment and sued their lawyer for legal malpractice. The trial court found that the actions of the defendant attorney fell well below the standard of care, that he had not provided any justification whatsoever for his actions, and that judgment in favor of the plaintiffs was appropriate as a matter of law. The court also awarded punitive damages in the amount of $1.00 to “serve as notice to everyone moving forward that they need to do due diligence when dealing with” the defendant attorney.


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