The statute of limitations for legal malpractice claims in Tennessee is one year from the date the action accrues. Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104(a)(2). The “discovery rule” determines when the action accrues in most legal malpractice cases. Tennessee’s discovery rule says that a plaintiff’s time limit to file suit does not start to run until the plaintiff knows or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should know that he or she has an injury as a result of wrongful conduct by a defendant.
Recently, in Aleo v. Weyant, the Tennessee Court of Appeals examined a case involving a legal malpractice claim against a family law Attorney for failing to include a provision in a marital dissolution agreement and final decree of divorce specifying that the Wife would receive 50% of the Husband’s military pension and that she would be named as beneficiary of the pension. Attorney raised a statute of limitations defense and the trial court granted summary judgment.
The record showed that Wife went to a Staff Judge Advocate more than a year before she filed suit against Attorney and was advised by the Staff Judge Advocate that she would not get part of Husband’s pension benefits because the divorce decree was silent about that asset. Since the malpractice lawsuit was not filed within one year of Wife learning that she would not receive pension benefits, the Court of Appeals agreed with the Trial Court and upheld summary judgment.