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Carbone v. Tierney

New Hampshire Supreme Court
864 A.2d 308 (2004)


Facts

Alfred Carbone (plaintiff) hired attorney Nancy Tierney (defendant) to represent him in a dispute against his son, Daniel and daughter-in-law, Lisa. The complaint Tierney filed in federal district court in New Hampshire was dismissed when she failed to allege an amount in controversy sufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction. Tierney failed to appeal the dismissal which resulted in the dismissal of a second complaint filed in the same court. Thereafter, Tierney filed the complaint in federal district court in Massachusetts, but the suit was also dismissed because Tierney had failed to establish federal jurisdiction in the New Hampshire federal court. Finally, Tierney filed suit against Daniel and Lisa in Massachusetts state court. A paperwork mix-up by the court resulted in Tierney’s complaint being dismissed. However, Tierney failed to subsequently inquire why the matter was dismissed. After Lisa filed for bankruptcy, Carbone instructed Tierney to protect his interests by opposing the homestead exemption that Lisa was seeking and the discharge of a debt that was owed to Carbone. Tierney failed to do so. Carbone filed suit against Tierney in New Hampshire state court alleging legal malpractice. Thereafter, Carbone filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability and damages. The trial court granted the motion as to liability, but denied the motion as to damages. After a trial, the jury held for Carbone and awarded him approximately $175,000 in damages. Tierney appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Duggan, J.)

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