Rosemann v. Sigillito

Rosemann v. Sigillito, No. 14-2089 (8th Cir. May 4, 2015)
The 8th Circuit affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court (E.D. Mo.- St. Louis) granting summary judgment in favor of defendant in legal malpractice claim brought by former client against disbarred attorney. Eighth Circuit agreed that in a negligence case, Missouri law required expert testimony about the duty of care owed. Because plaintiff failed to provide an expert by the conclusion of discovery, trial court properly granted defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Procedural context:
Former client sued disbarred attorney for legal practice in U.S. District Court. After discovery concluded, defendant filed motions in limine to exclude evidence based on plaintiff's failure to submit expert on duty of care. Trial court converted motions in limine to motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment in favor of defendant. Plaintiff appealed to 8th Circuit.
Plaintiff hired defendant as his attorney in 2002 to help him invest millions of dollars from the sale of stock in a family business. Defendant falsely informed plaintiff that he was an expert in international investments. He also assured plaintiff that there would be no risk in investing the money in a foreign company and that plaintiff's interest would be protected. Specifically, defendant told plaintiff that plaintiff's investment would be guaranteed by NATO contracts that could be seized upon default. Defendant took portions of the $15.6 million investment for his own use, and charged various fees related to advising on and coordinating the loan. The borrower defaulted after paying back only $2.75 of the loan, and then filed bankruptcy in Turkey. Defendant was subsequently disbarred and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for various crimes, including money laundering, mail and wire fraud for activities related to the loan. Plaintiff then sued defendant in U.S. District Court for legal malpractice. After discovery, defendant moved to exclude evidence and strike various portions of plaintiff's claim, trial brief, and potential witnesses at trial based on plaintiff's failure to submit an expert on the duty of care of any attorney. The trial converted converted the motions to a motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment in favor of defendant, ruling that plaintiff's failure to provide an expert would prevent him from proving the necessary elements of negligence at trial. The trial court ruled that an expert would be necessary to testify regarding whether plaintiff could have recovered the amount due on the loan if not for defendant's alleged negligence.
Colloton, Beam, Kelly

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