Ameraccount Club, Inc. v. Hill

CourtSupreme Court of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtBROCK; HARBISON
Citation617 S.W.2d 876,215 U.S.P.Q. 562
PartiesAMERACCOUNT CLUB, INC., Plaintiff-Petitioner, v. T. Robert HILL, Larry C. Sanders, Palmer E. Miller and Lundy W. Daniel, Individually and as Partners d/b/a Hill, Sanders, Miller and Daniel, Defendants-Respondents.
Decision Date04 May 1981

Page 876

617 S.W.2d 876
215 U.S.P.Q. 562
AMERACCOUNT CLUB, INC., Plaintiff-Petitioner,
T. Robert HILL, Larry C. Sanders, Palmer E. Miller and Lundy
W. Daniel, Individually and as Partners d/b/a
Hill, Sanders, Miller and Daniel,
Supreme Court of Tennessee.
May 4, 1981.

Lloyd S. Adams, Jr., Harold W. McLeary, Jr., Humboldt, for plaintiff-petitioner.

Albert C. Harvey, Memphis, W. Stanworth Harris, Victor F. Schneider, Jackson, for defendants-respondents.


BROCK, Justice.

This is an action for damages by a client against a lawyer based upon allegations that the lawyer's representation fell below the standard of reasonable competence required of attorneys in the circumstances here disclosed. The Court of Appeals has affirmed the decision of the trial court granting a summary judgment against the plaintiff and in favor of the attorney on the ground that this action was not filed within the one year period of limitations allowed by T.C.A., § 28-304, which in pertinent part, provides:

"Actions and suits against attorneys for malpractice, whether said actions are based in contract or tort, ... shall be commenced within one year after cause of action accrued."

We granted discretionary review to consider the question: When does the statute of limitations begin to run on an action against an attorney for alleged malpractice in performing an obligation of representation such as that undertaken in this case?

In 1974, the plaintiff, Ameraccount Club, Inc., a corporation with its principal place of business located in Jackson, Tennessee, employed the defendant attorneys, whose offices were also located in Jackson, to incorporate its business and generally to give advice in connection with the establishment of a financial service program for use by banks, savings and loan associations and other financial institutions. Thus it came about that the plaintiff sought to have a service mark "Ameraccount Club, Inc." and a logo registered with the United States Patent Office. The defendant attorneys were employed to handle the filing and prosecution of plaintiff's claim for such registration. The defendant attorneys submitted the plaintiff's application in December, 1974, but learned, upon inquiry, on March 3, 1975, that the application was incomplete in that insufficient number of copies of the logo had been submitted. On March 13, 1975, the defendant attorneys submitted to the Patent Office additional copies of the logo as required. Thus, this

Page 877

latter date, March 13, 1975, was the filing date assigned to the application by the Patent Office.

The defendant attorneys did not conduct a search of the Patent Office records to determine whether there were pending applications for service marks similar to that requested by the plaintiff or to determine whether there had been prior use of similar marks. But, on August 13, 1975, the Patent Office notified defendant Sanders that an application for registration of a similar logo had been filed on February 28, 1975, by a Florida savings and loan association and that because of prior filing the Florida logo would have precedence over the plaintiff's logo which was given the official filing date of March 13, 1975. Attached to this letter from the Patent Office was a photocopy of the drawing of the Florida application and information that the service mark ("First Ameraccount") had been used in interstate commerce on October 1, 1974. The plaintiff's proposed service mark had been first used in November, 1974. This letter of August 13, 1975, from the Patent Office to the defendant attorneys stated:

"Since the effective filing date of the instant application is subsequent to the filing date of the other pending application, the latter, if and when it matures into a registration, will be cited against the instant application."

This letter continued:

"If applicant desires to prosecute this application further, the informalities listed below should be corrected."

This instruction was followed by a list of some...

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42 cases
  • Mackey v. Judy's Foods, Inc., No. 3-84-0108.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 10, 1987
    ...not permitted to wait, however, until he knows all of the injurious effects or consequences of a wrong. Ameraccount Club, Inc. v. Hill, 617 S.W.2d 876, 878 n. 1 (Tenn.1981). Rather, even when, as here, a plaintiff contends a statute should be tolled by fraudulent concealment or by the exist......
  • Knight v. Furlow, No. 87-1140.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • February 6, 1989
    ...548 P.2d 966 (1976); Bowman v. Abramson, 545 F.Supp. 227 (E.D.Pa. 1982) (interpreting Pennsylvania law); Ameraccount Club, Inc. v. Hill, 617 S.W.2d 876 (Tenn. 2. Amfac Distribution Corp. v. Miller, 138 Ariz. 155, 673 P.2d 795 (Ct.App.), aff'd, 138 Ariz. 152, 673 P.2d 792 (1983) (en banc), o......
  • Harriet & Henderson Yarns, Inc. v. Castle, No. 97-3032 DA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Western District of Tennessee
    • December 3, 1999
    ...A cause of action does not accrue until the plaintiffs have suffered actual injury. Id. at 30. See also Ameraccount Club, Inc. v. Hill, 617 S.W.2d 876 (Tenn.1981). In this case, Plaintiffs did not suffer an actual injury until the distribution of Star's assets, or at the earliest, when Plai......
  • Vossoughi v. Polaschek, No. 13–1381.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 13, 2015
    ...than a breach of a professional duty causing only ... speculative harm or the threat of future harm.”); Ameraccount Club, Inc. v. Hill, 617 S.W.2d 876, 878 (Tenn.1981) (“The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the plaintiff's cause of action accrued and the statute of limitations began t......
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