Beck Redden Secures Reversal and Rendition of a Take-Nothing Judgment in Lawyer Liability Matter

On July 24, 2014, the Eastland Court of Appeals issued its decision rendering a take-nothing judgment in favor of the Firm’s client, DLA Piper US, LLP, in a long-running lawyer liability dispute. The case, Linegar v. DLA Piper LLP (US), involved allegations that DLA Piper LLP (US) had entered into an attorney-client relationship with the counterparty to a secured lending transaction, negligently failed to warn the counterparty that he was not represented by the firm, and misrepresented the nature of its engagement and the perfected status of the secured loan. After the loan defaulted and the counterparty was unable to recover the full extent of its losses, its principal sued the firm on numerous causes of action, seeking actual damages and punitive damages.

At a three-week trial in 2012, a Beck Redden trial team led by partners Fields Alexander and Geoff Gannaway successfully defeated the punitive damage claim, some of the liability theories, and reduced the damage claim. More important in the long run, they secured a summary judgment dismissing the commercial counterparty to the loan transaction and preserved the argument that the plaintiff in the lawyer liability case – an individual principal of the counterparty – did not have standing to assert the claims in that litigation.

On appeal, Beck Redden developed a comprehensive strategy that identified the standing defect, along with numerous other defects that afflicted the various theories of liability and the course of the trial. The court of appeals agreed that the plaintiff who proceeded to trial lacked standing to assert any claims against DLA Piper LLP (US), reversing and rendering a take-nothing judgment.The appeal was handled by Beck Redden partner Russell Post (who presented the oral argument).