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Goodman v. Holmes & McLaurin Attorneys at Law

665 S.E.2d 526 (2008)

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Goodman v. Holmes & McLaurin Attorneys at Law

North Carolina Court of Appeals

665 S.E.2d 526 (2008)

Facts

David Goodman (plaintiff) was injured in a car accident. Goodman retained the law firm of Holmes & McLaurin (H&M) (defendant) to bring claims against the tortfeasors. Edward McLaurin of H&M filed a complaint on behalf of Goodman but filed a voluntary dismissal without informing Goodman or obtaining Goodman’s consent. As a result of McLaurin’s failure to re-file the lawsuit within one year, Goodman’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. McLaurin concealed his actions from Goodman by (1) advising Goodman that the tortfeasors were insured when the purported insurer did not exist, (2) telling Goodman he was negotiating a settlement with the insurer and submitting three settlement offers to Goodman, (3) forwarding to Goodman a trust memorandum from the insurer with regard to the accepted settlement offer, (4) making payments to Goodman’s account from H&M’s trust account and telling Goodman the payments were interim payments from the insurer, (5) sending Goodman a copy of the complaint McLaurin claimed he had filed against the tortfeasors and their insurer for breach of the settlement agreement and asking Goodman to execute a verification of the complaint, and (6) sending Goodman a copy of an email supposedly from a lawyer in Spain when Goodman pressed for confirmation of the matter’s status. When Goodman learned that McLaurin had dismissed and failed to refile Goodman’s claims and had not sued the insurer, Goodman filed an action against H&M based on McLaurin’s negligence and fraud. The trial court granted H&M’s motion to dismiss. Goodman appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Steelman, J.)

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