Missing Out on a Possible Jury Instruction is Insufficient to Allege Causation

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Attorney Brian LaFlamme (“LaFlamme”) represented Durwyn Talley (“Talley”), an inmate with the Illinois Department of Corrections, in a civil rights action related to the conditions Talley endured at a correctional center.  Talley sued LaFlamme and the partners of his law firm for legal malpractice in that LaFlamme failed to seek discovery related to one of Talley’s most important grievances.  LaFlamme moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

In his motion, LaFlamme argued that Talley did not sufficiently allege causation.  The Court explained that a “plaintiff must set forth a plausible statement not only that a breach of duty occurred but that the breach caused the plaintiff to lose a valid claim or defense in the underlying action and that, absent that loss, the underlying claim would have been successful.”  Id. at 3.  Talley asserted that had LaFlamme tried to obtain “needed discovery on all issues… a negative inference jury instruction as to those issues, would’ve been given against them on those claims.”  Id.  However, this alone was not enough to properly allege that the requested discovery would have led to Talley’s success at trial. Moreover, the record showed that the most recent scheduling order required discovery to be complete more than a month before LaFlamme entered his appearance. Talley also admitted in his complaint that “he repeatedly sought discovery on all claims… before LaFlamme was appointed” to represent him.  Id. at 3.  Consequently, LaFlamme’s motion to dismiss was granted.

Talley v.  LaFlamme, No. 3:19-CV-01359-NJR, 2020 WL 2308258 (S.D. Ill. May 8, 2020)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

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