Predecessor Attorney Not Liable for Breach of Fiduciary Duty Following Adverse Trial Outcome

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In an unpublished decision, Robins v. Kuhn et., the California Court of Appeal (Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) affirmed summary judgment for defendant attorneys, dismissing a former client’s suit for breach of fiduciary duty. In the underlying action, the plaintiff and his two brothers had sued a theater owner for wrongful death, Unruh Civil Rights Act violations, and violations of the Public Accommodations Act relating to their father’s fall at the theatre and subsequent death.

Two of the three brothers settled all wrongful death and survival claims with the theater, but plaintiff brother continued his suit against the theater in his individual capacity, substituting new counsel for mandatory settlement conferences and trial. At trial, the jury rendered a defense verdict and awarded statutory fees and costs against plaintiff for over $250,000. Plaintiff then sued his former attorneys for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging they failed to investigate his case sufficiently and warn him of the possibility that he could be responsible for the theater’s attorney fees and costs if he lost.

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