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Lopez v. Clifford Law Offices

841 N.E.2d 465 (2005)

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Lopez v. Clifford Law Offices

Illinois Appellate Court

841 N.E.2d 465 (2005)

Facts

Jose Lopez (plaintiff) hired Clifford Law Offices, P.C. (Clifford) (defendant) to represent him in a wrongful-death action against a school district after his daughter drowned in a school-district pool. Six months after Lopez’s daughter’s death, Clifford attorney Thomas Prindable (defendant) sent Lopez a letter notifying him that Clifford was ending its representation. The letter also stated that the statute of limitations for Lopez’s claim was two years and that Lopez should find a new attorney immediately. A month later, Lopez consulted with attorney Joseph Loran, but Loran declined to represent Lopez. Loran warned Lopez that a statute of limitations might limit Lopez’s time to bring his claim, although Loran did not state what the time limit was. Thirteen months after his daughter’s death, Lopez consulted with another attorney and learned that the statute of limitations for his claim was only one year because the defendant was a municipal entity. Lopez’s new attorney attempted to file the lawsuit anyway, but it was dismissed as time-barred. Lopez sued Clifford and Prindable for legal malpractice, contending that he had lost his wrongful-death claim because he relied on Prindable’s statement about the two-year statute of limitations during his search for a new attorney. Clifford moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that Lopez still had a viable claim when their relationship ended, and that Lopez’s consultation with Loran was a superseding cause that broke the causal chain and absolved Clifford of liability. The trial court dismissed the claim, and Lopez appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gordon, J.)

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