In this unpublished opinion, the First District affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice claim due to plaintiff’s inability to establish that the defendant lawyer’s conduct caused damages.
The suit alleged malpractice by two separate law firms who allegedly failed to give their insurance carrier client notice that the underlying plaintiff had made a policy limit settlement demand. The underlying personal injury case was filed against an employer and employee. The insurance carrier retained one law firm to represent the employer and a separate law firm to represent the employee. During the underlying litigation, the plaintiff sent letters making policy-limit settlement demands to both law firms. The case did not settle and the plaintiff won a large jury verdict. Thereafter, the employer assigned its rights against the insurance carrier to the underlying plaintiff, who brought a bad faith refusal to settle lawsuit against the insurance carrier. The bad faith complaint’s allegations mentioned only the employer’s law firm and the employee’s law firm which also received the policy limit settlement demand letter. The carrier settled the bad faith claim and then sued both law firms for malpractice. The court affirmed the dismissal of the malpractice claim against the law firm not named in the bad faith complaint. Even though the insurance carrier alleged it would have known of the settlement demand sent to the employer’s law firm if the employee’s law firm had given notice of the demand it received, the court held that was insufficient to establish causation. The court further held that the employee’s law firm could not have proximately caused the insurance carrier’s injury because only the employer assigned its claim to the underlying plaintiff who brought the bad faith claim.