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Armor v. Lantz
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
535 S.E.2d 737 (2000)
Dennis Sipe and G. Rand Smith (defendants) were Ohio lawyers who represented Carolyn Armor (plaintiff) in connection with a personal-injury action to be brought against Michelin Tire Corp. (Michelin) in West Virginia. Neither Sipe nor Smith was licensed in West Virginia. Sipe and Smith contracted with George Lantz (defendant) to serve as local counsel. Although Lantz expected to be compensated, there were no discussions about how he would be paid. In another case involving Lantz and Sipe, Lantz had received $1,000 for acting as local counsel. In Armor’s matter, Lantz reviewed the complaint prepared by Sipe and authorized Sipe to sign his name as local counsel. Michelin was granted summary judgment on statute-of-limitations grounds. Armor sued Sipe, Smith, and Lantz for legal malpractice. Armor alleged that Lantz was vicariously liable for Smith and Sipe’s negligence based upon Lantz’s association with Smith and Sipe as local counsel. Sipe and Smith settled with Armor. The court granted summary judgment to Lantz. Armor appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McGraw, J.)
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