Key Decisions

June 2012 – Statute Of Limitations For Malpractice

(filed under: | June 16, 2012)

Other Cases Of Interest

The Statute Of Limitations On A Legal Malpractice Case Does Not Start To Run Until The Client Is Actually Injured By The Malpractice

Shifren v. Spiro
(Cal. Ct. of App., 2d Dist.), filed May 24, 2012 

Ken Shifren and his wife Barbara established a living trust for all of their property. Sometime later, they sought to amend the trust so that a property interest that Ken stood to inherit from his mother would remain his separate property. They hired attorney Randy Spiro to prepare the necessary papers.

The Shifrens were divorced. During the course of the proceedings, Barbara took the position that, because of the trust, the property that Ken had inherited from his mother was a community asset and that she was entitled to half of its value.

Ken sued Spiro and his law firm for malpractice. He alleged that Spiro committed malpractice by failing to prepare the amendment to the trust to effectuate his intention that the property he inherited from his mother remain his separate property.

Spiro and his law firm moved for summary judgment. They asserted that Ken’s lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations. They argued that, at the latest, the time for filing suit began to run when Barbara asserted that the particular property was community property and Ken incurred legal fees to dispute that assertion.

The trial court granted the motion.

The Court of Appeal reversed. It held that regardless of when the alleged malpractice occurred, Ken was not actually injured by it until the court in the dissolution action determined that the amendment to the trust agreement did not result in the property Ken inherited remaining his separate property. As such, the time for filing suit had not started to run until that point.