Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jensen v. Hillsboro Law Group, PC

Court of Appeals of Oregon

September 13, 2017

Jens JENSEN, Plaintiff- Appellant,
v.
HILLSBORO LAW GROUP, PC; and John Andon, Defendants-Respondents.

          Argued and submitted March 3, 2016

         Washington County Circuit Court C135194CV

          Michele C. Rini, Judge pro tempore.

         George W. Kelly argued the cause and fled the brief for appellant.

          Kathryn Mary Pratt argued the cause and fled the briefs for respondents.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Lagesen, Judge, and Garrett, Judge.

         Plaintiff appeals from the trial court's order granting summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff's claims for negligence and breach of contract. Plaintiff, on behalf of himself and as a representative of a corporation, sought legal advice from defendant regarding an arbitration. Defendant agreed to representation. After the arbitration panel issued an award that held plaintiff personally liable, plaintiff asked defendant to correct what he believed to be an error. Defendant refused, indicating that he represented only the corporation, not plaintiff. In response, plaintiff fled the current complaint. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that defendant did not owe plaintiff any duty of care during the arbitration proceedings because defendant and plaintiff did not have an attorney-client relationship at that time. The trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment, stating that plaintiff needed an expert to show that defendant breached the standard of care. On appeal, plaintiff assigns error to that grant of summary judgment. Held: The trial court erred when it granted summary judgment to defendant. Defendant failed to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact regarding the existence of an attorney-client relationship between defendant and plaintiff during the arbitration proceedings. Further, the

         [287 Or. 698] standard of care was not raised in defendant's motion for summary judgment such that plaintiff would have been required to produce evidence on that issue.

         [287 Or. 699]ORTEGA, P. J.

         Plaintiff Jens Jensen filed a complaint against defendants John Andon and the Hillsboro Law Group that included claims for negligence and breach of contract arising out of their representation of plaintiff in a legal matter.[1]Defendant moved for summary judgment on both claims and prevailed. We conclude that material issues of fact exist as to the limited issues that were fairly raised by defendant's motion, and consequently reverse and remand.

         We recount the facts from the summary judgment record, "viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, as the nonmoving party." Lahn v. Vaisbort, 276 Or.App. 468, 470, 369 P.3d 85 (2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff is the president of Durst-Pro-USA (DPU). DPU had an agreement for legal services with Bullivant Houser Bailey (Bullivant), which ultimately devolved into an attorney-fee dispute. In its effort to resolve that dispute, Bullivant sent a letter addressed to DPU and plaintiff requesting arbitration before the Oregon State Bar (OSB). Plaintiff, in response, sought legal advice from defendant, both personally and in plaintiff's capacity as a representative of DPU. When plaintiff met with defendant, he told defendant that his goal was to be separated from the demand for arbitration, as he did not believe he should be part of Bullivant's fee dispute with DPU.[2] Defendant advised plaintiff that, to extricate himself from arbitration, all he had to do was to decline his consent to arbitration and inform OSB and Bullivant that he was not a party to the claim. Plaintiff, it appears, did just that. As to DPU, defendant advised that it should consent to arbitration. DPU did so and was represented by defendant at the arbitration hearing.

          [287 Or. 700] In an email confirming representation, defendant wrote that he was "willing to represent Jens Jensen/Durst Pro USA in the fee dispute matter with [Bullivant], " and the written fee agreements listed "Jens Jensen" as the client. The record also contains bills directed to Jens Jensen for "Jensen - Civil Matter."

         Plaintiff appeared as a witness for DPU at the arbitration, with the understanding that he was not a party to the proceedings. Nevertheless, following the hearing, the arbitration panel issued a joint award against DPU and plaintiff.[3] Realizing that the award held him personally liable, plaintiff asked defendant to correct what he believed to be an error. Defendant refused, indicating that he represented only DPU, not plaintiff. Plaintiff then hired a different attorney to assist him in vacating the award against him, though it appears that those efforts ultimately were unsuccessful.

         Plaintiff, acting pro se, then filed a complaint against defendant for negligence (legal malpractice) and breach of contract.[4] As to his negligence claim, plaintiff alleged that defendant had "acted unprofessionally, incompetently and negligently" and listed specific ways in which defendant had failed to represent him at the arbitration and in his communications with OSB. That is, plaintiff listed things that, in his view, defendant should have done to help him but did not, such as informing plaintiff that he would be appearing pro se at the arbitration hearing and alerting the arbitration panel that plaintiff was making a special appearance at the hearing. Further, plaintiff alleged:

"After having been made aware of having been falsely convicted plaintiff * * * requested that defendant attempt to remedy what happened to plaintiff to be an error. [Defendant] refused.
[287 Or. 701]"Defendants refused to act or take action on behalf of plaintiff. "
After first agreeing to represent plaintiff and subsequently agreeing to represent DPU defendants did not discuss with plaintiff any potential conflicts that could arise by representing DPU and plaintiff simultaneously.
"Defendants issued all billing and all invoices for all work performed for both DPU and plaintiff to plaintiff.
"[Defendant] failed [p]laintiff when he assured [p]lain-tiff that no other actions than not signing the Agreement to Arbitrate and informing [t]he Oregon State Bar, and [Bullivant], that [p]laintiff was not a party to the claim, was sufficient actions to sever [p]laintiff from the claim.
"[Defendant] did not inform the arbitrations panel that [p]laintiff was not part[y] to the agreement between DPU ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.