There is an interesting case out of Illinois that may have started out as a violation of the Illinois Breach of Promises Act, but it ended in a legal malpractice claim. The case is Wildey v. Paulsen. The Plaintiff in the case was a licensed attorney who decided to sue her ex-fiancé after he broke off their engagement. After receiving the news, Wildey discussed the possibility of bringing suit against her former groom-to-be with her friend and attorney, Paulsen.
Wildey drafted a letter to her ex-fiancé putting him on notice of the fact that she was planning on filing a lawsuit against him, which is a requirement of the Illinois Breach of Promises Act. The only problem with Wildey’s notice was that she failed to include the date of the engagement, which is a necessity under the Act. Neither Wildey nor Paulsen corrected this vital error.
After Wildey sent the notice, she signed a retainer agreement with Paulsen, however, she never paid Paulsen for any work which she had done on the file. The case was removed to federal court, tried before a jury and Wildey received a verdict in the amount of $118,000. This verdict was short lived, as it was appealed and reversed due to the fact that Wildey did not comply with the notice requirement because she left out the engagement date.
After having the verdict overturned, Wildey then filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against Paulsen seeking to recover the verdict which she lost in federal court along with damages for her pain and suffering. Unfortunately for Wildey, the Court determined that under the Act she was only entitled to recover actual damages, not damages for pain and suffering. Therefore, even though the Court determined that an attorney client relationship existed and was breached, Wildey was only able to recover $100 for wedding dress alterations.
This just goes to show that legal malpractice claims can arise out of an underlying case concerning just about anything. Click here to get more information about how our office can help with your legal malpractice action.