Saturday, April 13, 2013

Olfe v. Gordon case brief

Olfe v. Gordon case brief summary
93 Wis. 2d 173, 286 N.W.2d 573 (1980)

Appellant client filed suit against respondents, attorney and his insurer, in the Circuit Court for Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) for the attorney's negligent failure to follow her instructions in a transaction involving the sale of land. The client sought to recover the unpaid principal balance of a mortgage note on the property in question. The trial court granted the attorney and insurer's motion to dismiss. The client sought review.

-The client argued that expert testimony was not required to establish the attorney's standard of care and that the record contained sufficient credible evidence to warrant sending the case to the jury.

The court held that expert testimony was not required to show that the attorney, as agent for the client, violated his duty to her.

-The duty of care he owed the client was established not by the legal profession's standards but by the law of agency.
-The client sought recovery based on the attorney's failure to effectuate her intent even though the documents he prepared were not legally invalid.
-Proof of negligence in failing to follow specific instructions concerning the nature and purpose of the documents desired did not require expert testimony to establish the applicable standard of care and the departure from that standard.
-The client's evidence presented questions for the jury as to the existence and apportionment of causal negligence.
-The jurors could view the attorney's actions as misinforming or insufficiently informing the client and she was not barred from recovery merely because she concluded that the attorney had properly performed the services for which he was employed.

OUTCOME: The grant of the attorney and insurer's motion to dismiss was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.

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