Legal Malpractice Jurisdiction
One question I am often asked in legal malpractice cases is “can a lawyer be sued for legal malpractice in a state where he does not live or work if he took a case there?” This question is really asking, does the state where the legal work was done, supposed to be done, have jurisdiction over a non-resident lawyer that may not be licensed in the state and may have never even visited the state.
Well, a federal court in the Western District of Kentucky has issued an opinion answering the question. A Minnesota lawyer was hired by an Indiana resident to investigate and pursue a wrongful death claim in Kentucky. The lawyer sent contracts and medical authorizations to the estate’s representative; however, according to the complaint, the lawyer failed to do any work on the case after receiving the signed documents back from the client. Ultimately, the statute of limitations expired and the client sued the lawyer in Kentucky.
The lawyer argued that a Kentucky court did not have jurisdiction over him because he lived in a different state. The federal court analyzed the situation and ultimately determined that the lawyer had consented to jurisdiction by his actions and that the facts of the underlying medical malpractice case had such a strong connection to Kentucky that jurisdiction was proper.