Collectibility in Legal Malpractice Suits – A Required Element in Proving Damages: Schmidt v. Coogan

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In Schmidt v. Coogan, No. 41279-9-II, 2012 WL 5331567 (October 30, 2012), the Washington Court of Appeals held that (1) collectibility is a required component in determining legal malpractice damages and (2) the failure to prove collectibility is fatal to a plaintiff trying to establish damages in a legal malpractice action.

The Underlying Facts -

In Schmidt, plaintiff Teresa Schmidt retained attorney Timothy Coogan to represent her in a slip and fall action against a Tacoma grocery store. Coogan failed to file Schmidt’s lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired and Schmidt sued Coogan for legal malpractice. Following a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict against Coogan for $32,000 in past economic damages and $180,500 in non-economic damages. Coogan moved for a new trial on the issue of damages and the trial court granted the new trial.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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