Sunday, February 3, 2013

Russo v. Griffin case brief

Russo v. Griffin case summary
510 A.2d 436 (Vt. 1986)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiff client appealed the decision of the Rutland Superior Court (Vermont), which enter a judgment for defendant attorney on the client's claim for legal malpractice.

The client and a brother were shareholder of a family paving business. When the client brought out the brother, the attorney assisted with the negotiations and drafted the paperwork. The attorney did not advise the client to obtain a covenant to not compete from the brother. Three months later the brother started a competing paving business. The client filed suit against the attorney for legal malpractice. At trial, two experts from a neighboring city testified that the attorney's conduct did not meet the standard of care and two experts from the city where the attorney practiced testified that the attorney's conduct did meet the standard of care. The trial court accepted the testimony of the latter two experts based on an application of the locality rule. On appeal, the court reversed and remanded for a new trial.


The court held that the applicable geographic scope of reference should be the jurisdiction where the attorney has been licensed, i.e., the state.


The standard of care within the legal profession required lawyers to exercise the customary skill and knowledge which normally prevails at the time and place.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed the decision of the trial court, which had ruled in favor of the attorney on the client's claim for legal malpractice.

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