Defense Verdict In Legal Malpractice Trial

The Fulton County Daily Report recently wrote about a legal malpractice trial that resulted in a defense verdict (subscription required) for Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young, LLP‘s client.  The case was tried by partners Kim M. Jackson and E. Tyron Brown

Kim M. Jackson tried the legal malpractice issues and gave the closing argument

The trial began August 13, 2012 and lasted 9 days.  The jury was charged on the ninth day and returned a verdict about an hour after getting the evidence and verdict form. 

Plaintiff’s primarily claim was the alleged failure to timely file a lawsuit against the architect and the developer within the statute of limitations.  The liability defense was based on the fact that the attorney was told by the President of the Association that the Association would not file a lawsuit. 

This was the classic case-within-the-case trial.  The recent Supreme Court holding of Johnson v. Leibel affected the evidence that was admitted at trial.  The length of trial was dictated primarily by the expert witnesses for the construction defect issues.  Plaintiff requested over $3,000,000 in damages in closing.

 The jury was given a verdict form with a number of special interrogatories.  The first question asked the jury whether the attorney defendants breached any standard of care owed to the Association.  The jury answered that question “NO.”  Thus, the verdict was a finding that HPTY’s clients had done nothing wrong and had not acted negligently.  The verdict was a complete exoneration of the Defendants and their legal work on behalf of the Association.

Ty Brown focused on construction issues

The Defendants were presented by Kim M. Jackson and E. Tyron Brown.  Mr. Jackson, whose practice consists primarily of representing attorneys, focused on the witnesses and facts that most directly affected the standard of care issues.  Mr. Brown, who is experienced in construction law and litigation, focused on the underlying alleged construction and design defect claims.  The Defense team included Martha J. Boyd, a Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP technology specialist, and Kimberly Harris, a paralegal.

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