In a recent legal malpractice case, the Tennessee Court of Appeals held that the one-year statute of limitations had run and that the case should accordingly be dismissed in total.
In Story v. Bunstein, No. E2015-02211-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. June 9, 2016), plaintiffs had previously been represented by defendant lawyers in a lender liability suit against three defendants. The timeline of the underlying litigation included the following:
- On May 7, 2013, the trial court granted summary judgment to two defendants.
- Lawyer “allegedly advised [plaintiffs] that he would fie a motion to correct what he perceived was the erroneous grant of the motion for summary judgment.”
- Layer filed a motion to alter or amend, but no hearing was ever set for that motion.
- “Shortly before trial on the remaining claims, [lawyer] allegedly informed [plaintiffs] that their damages evidence was not ready for trial” and recommended voluntary dismissal.
- Underlying suit was voluntarily dismissed on November 13, 2013, and was not re-filed.
This legal malpractice claim was filed on September 3, 2014.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations. In response, plaintiffs argued that “the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the order of dismissal as to [plaintiff’s] remaining claims was entered on November 13, 2013.” The trial court held that the statute of limitations barred some of plaintiffs’ malpractice claims, but that plaintiffs’ “allegations with respect to the November 2013 voluntary dismissal of their remaining claim in the underlying case is a discrete allegation of alleged legal malpractice which is not barred by the statute of limitations.” The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that the entire case was in fact time-barred.