Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Dawson v. Gray & Gray, A Professional Law Corp.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

October 24, 2018

CONNIE DAWSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUCCESSION REPRESENTATIVE OF FRANK ANTHONY DAWSON, BARBARA DAWSON, JENNIFER E. ROBERT AND CHERYL WOODS
v.
GRAY & GRAY, A PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION, AND JAMES A. GRAY, II

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2011-04789, DIVISION "E" Honorable Clare Jupiter, Judge

          Jesse L. Wimberly, III, Jesse L. Wimberly, IV COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES

          Ike Spears, Diedre Pierce Kelly COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS

          (Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods)

          Roland L. Belsome Judge

         This appeal arises from a legal malpractice action brought against the defendants, Gray & Gray, a Professional Law Corporation and James Gray, II. The trial court awarded each of the four plaintiffs $50, 000. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         Facts

         The plaintiffs, Connie Dawson, Barbara Dawson, Jennifer E. Roberts, and Cheryl Woods, are the surviving siblings of Frank Anthony Dawson ("Mr. Dawson"). The plaintiffs contracted with the defendants for legal representation in the wrongful death and survival action claims against the Sheriff of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana for the suicide death of Mr. Dawson.[1]

         After executing the professional services agreement with the defendants, a lawsuit was filed on July 21, 2003, in the 22nd Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Tammany, State of Louisiana. The lawsuit named Sheriff Rodney "Jack" Strain, Jr. as the defendant. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the named plaintiffs included Mr. Dawson's four siblings, as well as, his biological father, Frank Winston, Sr.

         Sheriff Strain responded to the lawsuit by filing Exceptions of No Right of Action and No Cause of Action.[2] Those exceptions were granted on November 11, 2003, and the lawsuit was dismissed. From that Judgment of Dismissal, an appeal was taken to the Court of Appeal for the First Circuit. On November 4, 2005, the First Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the district court to allow for the Petition for Damages to be amended. A Supplemental and Amending Petition was filed on January 25, 2007. Sheriff Strain answered that petition with a general denial and filed additional exceptions on February 12, 2007. Subsequent to that filing, no substantive filings were entered into the record for more than three years. Sheriff Strain filed a Motion for Abandonment that was granted on May 5, 2010, dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice.

         Once the plaintiffs were made aware of the dismissal of their lawsuit, a legal malpractice claim was filed against the defendants in 2011. The issues of proper party plaintiffs and liability were determined upon partial motions for summary judgment, and there was a trial on damages. Judgment was ultimately rendered on December 22, 2017, awarding each plaintiff $50, 000 in damages. This appeal followed.

         On appeal, the defendants challenge the granting of a partial motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability and the damages award. The defendants also seek a new trial.

         Standard of Review

         This Court reviews the trial court's finding of fact under a manifestly erroneous or clearly wrong standard.[3] This court will not disturb the trial court's rulings unless there is no reasonable factual basis for the finding or the record establishes that it is clearly wrong. [4]

         First, the defendants challenge the granting of the motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability based on lack of notice. The partial summary judgment at issue was originally set for August 1, 2014, but was later continued until October 24, 2014. On October 21, 2014, then counsel for the defendants filed a motion to continue and a motion to withdraw as counsel of record. The trial court signed an order reiterating the date for hearing the partial motion for summary judgment as October 24, 2014. Further, no action was taken on the motion to withdraw. No one appeared for the defendants and the trial court granted the motion in favor of the plaintiffs.

         This Court's review of the granting of a motion for summary judgment is de novo applying the same criteria as the trial court.[5] "After an opportunity for adequate discovery, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[6] "The burden is on the adverse party to produce factual support sufficient to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact or that the mover is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[7]

         Partial Motion for ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.