Dismissal of Connecticut Legal Malpractice Suit Affirmed on Appeal
David Robertson and Christopher Blau obtained a favorable decision from the Connecticut Appellate Court, affirming the dismissal of a legal malpractice action. The Appellate Court’s decision reaffirms the foundational principles that there are consequences when plaintiffs fail to comply with discovery and that trial court judges have the power to control discovery proceedings. The Appellate Court found that the trial court acted within its discretion in dismissing the plaintiff’s legal malpractice action, especially in light of the plaintiff’s lengthy history of noncompliance during discovery.
The plaintiff alleged malpractice after the defendant, a well-respected Connecticut attorney, settled an underlying personal injury action. The attorney representing the plaintiff in the legal malpractice case was a necessary witness in the legal malpractice action because his fee for negotiating a medical lien was claimed as damages in the case. After he failed to comply with a court order that he submit to a deposition, the court entered a judgment of nonsuit in the case. There had been a prior history of discovery disputes and noncompliance by the plaintiff which provided part of the trial court’s basis for entering a nonsuit on this occasion.
The issue on appeal concerned whether the court’s order to appear for a deposition was clear and whether the severe sanction of nonsuit for violating the court order was appropriate. There was also a secondary issue concerning whether the court should have conducted a hearing on the plaintiff’s motion to open the nonsuit in a different fashion.
After briefing and oral argument, the Appellate Court issued a well-reasoned and thorough decision affirming the trial court’s actions.