William Feda (“Feda”) represented William Schmid (“Schmid”) in the dissolution of Schmid’s marriage. At issue in the divorce proceedings were Schmid’s unemployment and ability to pay maintenance and his former wife’s health and ability to work. The Circuit Court ordered Schmid to pay his wife $1,500 per month or 40% of his gross income, whichever was greater. Schmid, displeased by the outcome, sued Feda for legal malpractice. He claimed that Feda’s negligent conduct of the discovery process led to the judgment against him. Feda moved for summary judgment, asserting that his actions were protected by the judgmental immunity doctrine. Feda also maintained that even if he should have taken the steps Schmid wanted, Schmid could not prove that their absence was the proximate cause of the judgment against him. At a hearing on the motion, Schmid argued that the summary judgment was premature since the Trial Court had not yet set a date for disclosure of expert witnesses, though he admitted not raising that issue in his response to the motion. The motion was granted.
On appeal, Schmid argued that the Trial Court erred in not allowing him sufficient time to disclose expert opinions on whether Feda had breached the applicable standard of care. The Appellate Court disagreed, declining to disturb the Trial Court’s ruling on a discovery matter absent “a manifest abuse of discretion.” Id. at ¶19. In this case, although no date for expert disclosure had been set, six years had passed since Feda’s alleged negligence and the hearing on the motion for summary judgment. Despite that, no plaintiff’s expert was ever disclosed. Id. at ¶23. As Feda “was unable to prove his malpractice case without any expert testimony,” summary judgment was affirmed. Id.
(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)