Monday, January 18, 2021

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Declines to Adopt Continuous Representation Rule for Attorney Malpractice Claims

In the case of Clark v. Stover, No. 2 MAP 2020 (Pa. Dec. 22, 2020) (Op. by Saylor, J.), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was requested by the Plaintiff to adopt the continuous representation rule, which is applicable in a number of other jurisdiction, to toll the statute of limitations in this professional liability action based upon alleged attorney malpractice. In the end, the court denied the Plaintiff’s request that the Court adopt this rule. 

The Court reasoned that the statute of limitations are legislative in nature and that any change in the law should come from the general assembly.

At the trial court level of this case, the court found that the Plaintiffs in this legal malpractice claim were aware of the alleged negligence for more than four (4) years before they filed their malpractice suit. As such, the lower court found that the claims were time-barred by the two (2) year statute of limitations applicable to negligence claims as well as the four (4) years statute of limitations applicable to any contract claim.

At the Superior Court level, that court had enforced the “occurrence rule,” which holds that the statutory period commences upon the happening of the alleged breach of duty, which amounts to either a duty of care under the negligence doctrine or, any duty from an agreement for purposes of contract law. The Superior Court had refused the Plaintiffs’ request that that court adopt a continuous representation rule, under which the applicable statute of limitations would not begin to run until the date on which the Defendants’ representation was terminated.

As noted, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the request that it adopt the continuous representation rule.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Jan. 5, 2021).

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