In a legal malpractice matter, an Ohio state appellate court affirmed a trial court ruling granting summary judgment to defendant attorneys on the basis that plaintiff failed to present expert testimony establishing that defendants failed to exercise "the knowledge, skill, and ability ordinarily possessed and exercised by members of the legal profession." McWilliams v. Schumacher, 2013-Ohio-29, 2013 WL 118918 at *6. The court cited to Ohio law requiring expert testimony demonstrating the attorney's breach of his standard of care, in all cases except where the breach of care was 'obvious':
"[I]t is well settled in Ohio that in order to prevail on a legal malpractice claim a plaintiff must demonstrate, through expert testimony, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the representation of the attorney failed to meet the prevailing standard of care, and that the failure proximately caused damage or loss to the client. Zafirau v. Yelsky, 8th Dist. No. 89860, 2008-Ohio-1936, ¶ 27. Further, "the Supreme Court made it clear that there must be a causal connection between the lawyer's failure to perform and the resulting damage or loss." Jarrett v. Forbes, 8th Dist. No. 88867, 2007-Ohio-5072, ¶ 19, explaining Vahila v. Hall, 77 Ohio St.3d 421, 1997-Ohio-259, 674 N.E.2d 1164.
"Expert testimony is required to sustain a claim of legal malpractice, except where the alleged errors are so simple and obvious that it is not necessary for an expert's testimony to demonstrate the breach of the attorney's standard of care. Hirschberger v. Silverman, 80 Ohio App.3d 532, 538, 609 N.E.2d 1301 (6th Dist.1992); McInnis v. Hyatt Legal Clinics, 10 Ohio St .3d 112, 113, 461 N.E.2d 1295 (1984); Rice v. Johnson, 8th Dist. No. 63648, 1993 Ohio App. LEXIS 4109 (Aug. 26, 1993); Cross-Cireddu v. Rossi, 8th Dist. No. 77268, 2000 Ohio App. LEXIS 5480 (Nov. 22, 2000)."
McWilliams v. Schumacher, supra. In McWilliams, the plaintiff alleged that his former attorneys breached their duties by excluding him from settlement negotiations and handling the matter in a manner that did not meet professional standards. The appellate court upheld a trial court determination that, under these facts, the alleged act of malpractice was not obvious and required expert testimony to substantiate that malpractice had occurred.
James King's trial testimony as a legal expert has been praised by juries and judges for his unique ability to distill complex legal issues into understandable concepts. A graduate of Stanford Law School (Order of the Coif, Law Review), Mr. King has consistently qualified as an expert whenever his testimony has been offered. His 30+ years of experience and knowledge are reflected in his assignments: he has supervised and coordinated billion dollar litigation and has arbitrated or testified in over 250 legal fee and malpractice claims (with hundreds of millions of dollars at issue). Superior Court Judges have chosen Mr. King to work confidentially with them as a Special Master in a number of serious criminal cases, including homicide and judicial bribery. He has testified extensively in Federal and State Courts, and also has appeared as an expert before the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the High Court of Kenya.
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