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Togstad v. Vesely, Otto, Miller & Keefe

Minnesota Supreme Court
291 N.W.2d 686 (1980)


Facts

John Togstad (plaintiff) was severely injured and partially paralyzed after a physician committed medical malpractice while Togstad was hospitalized. Fourteen months later, Togstad’s wife Joan (collectively, plaintiffs), met with attorney Jere Miller (defendant) of the law firm Vesely, Otto, Miller & Keefe (Vesely) (collectively, defendants). After Joan explained what had happened to John in the hospital, Miller informed her that there was no legal claim to pursue. Joan was not billed for Miller’s time, nor was she advised to seek alternative legal advice. Thereafter, the statute of limitations barred any claim for medical malpractice against the physician or hospital. The Togstads filed a legal malpractice action against Miller and Vesely. At trial, attorney Kenneth Green was called as an expert for the Togstads. Green testified that, at a minimum, a competent medical malpractice attorney would request medical authorizations from the client, review hospital records, and consult with an expert in the field. Experts for the defendants conceded that hospital records should have been reviewed. A jury found defendants negligent and awarded $610,500 in damages to John and $39,000 in damages to Joan. Defendants appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam.)

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