An appellate court ruled last week that a legal malpractice case which has its roots in a 2003 family law case could not be dismissed based on the statute of limitations.

Plaintiff alleged her matrimonial attorney gave her bad advice – that her term alimony of nine years could be extended at the end of the term. When she made that request, it was denied and then she lost her appeal of the trial court’s denial.

She then filed a legal malpractice case against her original attorney and his firm. The trial court dismissed her case, ruling in favor of defendants’ statute of limitations argument. The appellate panel reversed the trial court and revived her claim. The panel analogized to medical malpractice rulings, stating the statute only began to run when the plaintiff discovered, or should have reasonably discovered, the malpractice. It noted the difficulties in defending a case this old, but ruled for Plaintiff. It should be noted Plaintiff had custody of two adult children with disabilities, one of whom needed 24-hour care, limiting her ability to work.

Poor advice can last what seems like forever.

Jones v. Viola et al., A-1810-18T4 ( Decided Feb. 27, 2020).