[UPDATED THROUGH May 9, 2013]
Evanston Insurance Co. v. Riseborough
Supreme Court Number: 114271
Appellate Court: First District, Division Three
Appellate Court Case Number: 1-10-2660
Issue Presented: Does the statute of repose for actions against attorneys “arising out of an act or omission in the performance of professional services” apply only to actions for professional negligence brought by a former client of the attorney?
Appellate Court Opinion Summary: Click here.
Magnetek v. Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Supreme Court Case Number: 112910
Appellate Court: First District, Second Division
Appellate Court Case Number: 1-10-1067
Issue Presented: Does a claim for legal malpractice in a patent infringement suit fall under exclusive Federal patent jurisdiction where the claim rests upon certain defenses which were found in a subsequent suit involving another party to render the underlying patent unenforceable?
Appellate Court Opinion Summary: Defendant represented plaintiff in a patent infringement suit. The parties agreed to arbitrate the matter, and the arbitrator awarded the suing inventor damages for infringement. Subsequently, the plaintiff moved to vacate the arbitrator's award based on fraud in obtaining the underlying patent, but the motion was denied. In a subsequent infringement case involving the inventor and an unrelated third party, the patent at issue was declared unenforceable, largely upon the grounds urged in the plaintiff's motion to vacate. Plaintiff sued defendant for malpractice, alleging that defendant was negligent in not finding the evidence of invalidity soon enough for it to be raised in the underlying infringement action. The trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss, finding that in order to establish the proximate cause element of the malpractice claim, plaintiff would have to prove that but for defendant's alleged negligence, it would have prevailed in the infringement action -- a substantial question of Federal patent law. The Appellate Court pointed out that under Federal law, a finding of patent invalidity in one action could be used by future litigants against the patent holder pursuant to collateral estoppel. Accordingly, the Court found that because the patent at issue had been found invalid in a later suit, largely upon the grounds urged by the plaintiff here, no disputed question of Federal patent law was at issue in the malpractice claim. Since it would be unnecessary to answer any substantial and disputed question of Federal patent law in order to adjudicate the malpractice claim, the Appellate Court reversed the trial court, finding that the state courts had subject matter jurisdiction over the malpractice claim.