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In Re Blackwelder

Supreme Court of Indiana
615 N.E. 2d 106 (1993)


Facts

Randall and Dianna Gosnell retained attorney Charles Blackwelder (defendant) to represent the Gosnells in an appeal. Blackwelder missed a filing date due to a miscalculation. Blackwelder met with the Gosnells and asked them to sign an agreement containing a release of claims against Blackwelder and a covenant not to sue him. The release agreement also contained a provision stating that the Gosnells had consulted another attorney about the agreement. In exchange, Blackwelder agreed to reimburse the Gosnells for their expenses in connection with the appeal and to file a petition for bankruptcy on their behalf. The Gosnells signed the release agreement, but later filed a grievance with the state disciplinary committee and a civil suit against Blackwelder for damages. At a hearing before the disciplinary committee, the Gosnells testified that Blackwelder did not advise them to seek advice from an attorney before signing the release agreement. Blackwelder testified that he had advised the Gosnells to seek independent counsel and that they had contacted an attorney, Henry Price. Price testified that he had spoken with the Gosnells, but that he did not discuss the release agreement or the bankruptcy petition. Rather, Price only recalled discussing a legal-malpractice claim against Blackwelder. The hearing officer issued findings and conclusions against Blackwelder, who petitioned for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

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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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