Legal Question in Legal Malpractice in California

Is it possible (to be successful) suing an opposing lawyer for malpractice? I recently had to defend a CA divorce action from a person to whom I am not married; we were divorced in another State years ago - property was divided and alimony not awarded. We were not married in CA (but did live there, among other States, for a time). Attached was a request for alimony and a UCCJEA child support request for her children who live in CA, and for whom I already had judgments of non-paternity.

I am not a resident of the State of CA where this was all filed, so there was no jurisdiction, and had previous jurisdictional dismissals for similar suits by the same party. The above case was dismissed with prejudice, but my costs to get that done were significant.

The lawyer that brought this suit was aware of all of the above, even conceding our divorced status and non-paternity in their initial pleadings. They offered a lot of statements, but never any legal grounds. We did request sanctions against the plaintiff in our motion to quash, but they were not granted; possibly because she is unemployed and has no income to pay.

I want my costs to defend this mess back.

Asked on 3/24/13, 6:20 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Joel Selik

You cannot sue the opposing attorney for malpractice. While it is possible to sue for Malicious prosecution. those cases are fraught with dangers. Your best bet was within the case where you were sued, at, you stated that failed.

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Answered on 3/24/13, 6:48 pm

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

You cannot sue opposing counsel for malpractice because they owe a duty of care only to their own client. In the situation you describe, however, you may very well have a successful cause of action against the lawyer and their client, your ex, for malicious prosecution of a civil action and/ or abuse of process. If the attorney is located in Northern California and you would like to discuss your case further, please feel free to contact me.

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Answered on 3/24/13, 6:51 pm

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