Andrews v. Saylor

80 P.3d 482 (2003)

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Andrews v. Saylor

New Mexico Court of Appeals
80 P.3d 482 (2003)

  • Written by Sharon Feldman, JD

Facts

Susan Scarborough was an attorney employed by Albuquerque Law Clinic and Bruce W. Barrett & Associates (collectively, Scarborough) (defendants). Scarborough represented Deborah Andrews (plaintiff) in Andrews’s divorce. Scarborough prepared the final decree dividing the marital property. The divorce decree did not mention Andrews’s husband’s pension. After Andrews learned she might be entitled to part of her ex-husband’s pension, Andrews hired a new attorney who petitioned for division of the pension account. The judge ruled that the final decree contemplated the division of all property, including the pension. Andrews consulted other attorneys who advised it was unlikely an appeal would be successful. Andrews sued Scarborough, alleging that Scarborough was negligent in failing to explicitly include the pension in the final decree. The court granted summary judgment to Scarborough, finding that the decree did not include the pension, Andrews’s petition to divide the pension would have been successful if a timely appeal had been filed, and the failure to appeal was the proximate cause of Andrews’s loss. On appeal, Andrews argued that the judge improperly decided the question of proximate cause as a matter of law and erroneously held that the successor attorneys’ malpractice proximately caused Andrews’s loss, preventing Scarborough’s initial malpractice from being a proximate cause.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alarid, J.)

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