"For Whom the Statute Tolls," Professional Liability Defense Federation and Defense Research Institute Summer 2014
“A former client accuses his lawyer of legal malpractice and the lawyer is genuinely surprised because he concluded work on the matter in question so many years ago he believes the statute of limitations must have long since run out,” write Peter J. Biging and Jason L. Ederer, attorneys in Goldberg Segalla’s Professional Liability Practice Group.
“However, when he pulls his file out of storage, he sees that he never sent or received a letter formally concluding the representation. The question arises, then, as to as whether there is a viable statute of limitations defense, or whether an argument can be made that the statute never began to run because the representation never actually terminated.”
In this article, Peter and Jason examine recent significant decisions, particularly in New York, examining the question of when the statute of limitations on legal malpractice claims begins to run where the relationship has arguably been severed but no formal termination has been documented.
“While the issue can be somewhat nuanced,” they write, “the fact is that when it comes to a legal malpractice claim, the perception of a severed relationship between attorney and client is often different than the reality.”