Key Decisions

November 2013 – Without Damages Even “Negligent” Conduct Does Not Result In Liability

(filed under: Key Decisions | November 20, 2013)

Without Damages Even “Negligent” Conduct Does Not Result In Liability

Wise v. DLA Piper LLP (US)
(Cal. Ct. of App., 4th Dist.), filed October 8, 2013, published October 28, 2013

Dennis Wise and Joan Macfarlane loaned William Cheng $350,000, for which Cheng signed two promissory notes. However, Cheng defaulted on the notes, and later filed for bankruptcy.

Wise and Macfarlane were represented by the law firm, DLA Piper LLC (US), which aided them in obtaining a judgment in 1994 against Cheng.

DLA did not advise Wise and Macfarlane that they needed to periodically renew the judgment. As a result, in 2004 the judgment became unenforceable.

Wise and Macfarlane brought an action alleging malpractice and obtained a judgment against DLA.

The Court of Appeal reversed. It found that the evidence was insufficient to support the judgment against DLA because there was no evidence the judgment against Cheng would have been collectable even had it been renewed.