Successful Appeal in Never-Ending Legal Malpractice Case
Marshall Dennehey attorneys prevailed on an appeal in the Third Circuit, which affirmed a dismissal obtained in the District Court in favor of a matrimonial attorney who, along with her firm and client, was the subject of claims for legal malpractice, conversion, and misappropriation of trust funds arising out of an order in an underlying matrimonial action. The case spanned 25 years and invoked the jurisdiction of several state and federal courts. The plaintiff, in the district court action, brought common-law fraud and §1983 claims against the matrimonial attorney, and her client, the plaintiff's ex-wife. The Third Circuit affirmed and held that under the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, the District Court was divested of jurisdiction. In addition, the Third Circuit found that the plaintiff had previously litigated in the District Court for the District of Montana, which found that the matrimonial orders were final and, thus, collaterally estopped the plaintiff from bringing the action. Moreover, the Third Circuit agreed that the dismissal of the District Court action was proper because the claims were barred by New Jersey's statute of limitations. The plaintiff had been alleging fraud and misrepresentation of trust funds against the attorneys and their clients since at least 2002 in various jurisdictions. They even made the allegations in the underlying matrimonial case in 2006. Therefore, the Third Circuit agreed that all of the claims were time-barred and affirmed the District Court's order of dismissal.