In most legal malpractice cases, a plaintiff will need expert proof regarding the applicable standard of care.
In Elaster v. Massey, No. E2017-00020-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 22, 2018), plaintiff filed a pro se legal malpractice case against two attorneys who had previously represented her in a workers’ compensation claim. Plaintiff claimed that defendants had settled her workers’ comp claim without informing her, and that they had generally “failed to adequately represent her in the workers’ compensation case.”
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, supported by their own affidavits stating that they had “complied with all relevant standards of care in their representation of [plaintiff].” In support of their motion, defendants filed a statement of undisputed material facts, which stated that plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim was “disputed and doubtful,” and that even though they had negotiated a settlement in that case, plaintiff repudiated and the case was never actually settled. In response to the motion, plaintiff “admitted that no settlement agreement was ever finalized, that she never entered into any settlement agreement with her former employer, that no settlement funds were ever paid, and that both [defendants] were familiar with the standard of care required in the underlying workers’ compensation case.” Importantly, plaintiff “cited only to her complaint” in responding to the summary judgment motion, and presented no expert proof that defendants’ conduct fell below the standard of care.