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Clark v. Rowe

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
428 Mass. 339 (1998)


Facts

Jean Clark (plaintiff) was a real estate investor who lost money on an investment and blamed her losses on her attorney, Harvey Rowe (defendant), and her banker, Shawn Potter (defendant). Clark sued Rowe and Potter, alleging malpractice. After trial, the judge directed a verdict for Potter. In a special verdict, the jury found in favor of Rowe on certain claims but also found that Rowe was negligent in representing Clark in connection with a loan refinance. The jury found that Rowe’s negligence was a substantial cause of Clark’s losses but that Clark was also negligent. The jury believed Clark was 70 percent negligent and Rowe was 30 percent negligent. Applying principles of comparative fault, the judge ordered judgment in favor of Rowe. Clark appealed the trial court’s decision and argued that comparative fault is not applicable to claims of legal malpractice.  

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, C.J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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