LLMD of Michigan, Inc. v. Jackson-Cross Co.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
740 A.2d 186 (1999)
LLMD of Michigan, Inc., doing business as Wintoll Associates Limited Partnership (Wintoll) (plaintiff), sought to purchase real estate. Wintoll entered into a contract with two financing companies to provide financing for the purchase. After the financing companies failed to follow through on the agreement, Wintoll sued for breach of contract. Wintoll hired Charles Seymour, the chairman of Jackson-Cross Co. (defendant), as an expert witness to calculate the damages suffered by Wintoll as a result of the financing companies’ breach. Another employee at Jackson-Cross performed the calculation and estimated the damages to be $6 million. Seymour testified at trial, but on cross-examination, defense counsel pointed out an error in Jackson-Cross’s calculation that undermined the damages calculation. Because Seymour did not perform the calculation himself, he was unable to correct or explain the error on the stand, and Seymour’s testimony was stricken from the record. The following day, Wintoll settled the case for $750,000. Jackson-Cross provided Wintoll with a corrected damages estimate of $2.7 million. Wintoll sued Jackson-Cross for professional malpractice and breach of contract, seeking the difference between the settlement amount and the $2.7 million corrected damages estimate. Jackson-Cross filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asserting that Wintoll’s malpractice claim was barred by the witness-immunity doctrine. The trial court denied that motion, but it granted Jackson-Cross’s later motion for summary judgment on other grounds. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment, but on the basis that witness immunity applied. Wintoll appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, arguing that the witness-immunity doctrine should not apply to bar malpractice claims against expert witnesses.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Zappala, J.)
Dissent (Cappy, J.)
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