Jackson v. Dabney

Decision Date18 March 1982
Docket NumberNo. 17601,17601
Citation645 P.2d 613
PartiesRosalind JACKSON, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Virginius "Jinx" DABNEY, Defendant and Respondent.
CourtUtah Supreme Court

Michael J. Wilkins, Salt Lake City, for plaintiff and appellant.

Ray R. Christensen, Salt Lake City, for defendant and respondent.

OAKS, Justice:

Plaintiff retained two different attorneys to prevent the foreclosure and sale of her home. The home was eventually sold at foreclosure, and plaintiff was evicted. She then brought this action against both attorneys for malpractice. Plaintiff settled with one attorney, and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the other, respondent here. Plaintiff appeals, contending that there were genuine issues of fact that required a trial of her action against respondent.

The uncontested facts established in pretrial discovery showed that plaintiff ("client") and her husband were the owners of a residence encumbered by a mortgage lien and by numerous judgment and tax liens. Plaintiff retained respondent ("attorney") in order to prevent a judgment lienholder from foreclosing. At the attorney's suggestion, the client obtained $400 cash to be used in settling the creditor's $800 judgment. Several days before the scheduled foreclosure sale, the client took the money to the attorney's office, where, in her presence, he telephoned the lawyer representing the judgment creditor. After the telephone conversation, the attorney reported to his client that the opposing lawyer had agreed "to stop the (foreclosure) sale" in exchange for payment of $400. The client left the $400 with her attorney, entrusting the matter to his care.

The attorney did nothing further to prevent the foreclosure sale. He did not deliver the money to the judgment creditor, reduce the arrangement to writing, confirm it by letter, or take any other steps to ensure that his client's home was not sold at foreclosure.

Several days after the meeting in his office, the attorney called his client and told her that her house had been sold at foreclosure. He further advised her that she could redeem the property within six months by paying the amount of the judgment debt, accrued interest, and costs, a total of approximately $1,100. The attorney offered to hold the original $400 in trust while she raised the other $700. The client rejected this suggestion, and the attorney returned the $400 to her.

The client then consulted a second attorney. After he advised her to borrow $1,300 to redeem the property, which she did, the second attorney did not effect a redemption and the redemption period expired. The client's action against this second attorney was settled for $4,000 during the trial, and is not before us on appeal.

On this appeal from the granting of summary judgment to the first attorney, the client contends that the record disclosed a genuine issue of fact, specifically, whether the defendant exercised "due care in performing the duties reasonably to be expected of an attorney under the circumstances."

An attorney is required to possess the legal knowledge and skills common to members of his profession, Young v. Bridwell, 20 Utah 2d 332, 338, 437 P.2d 686, 690 (1968), and to represent his client's interests with competence and diligence. Dunn v. McKay, Burton, McMurray & Thurman, Utah, 584 P.2d 894, 896 (1978).

Ordinarily, whether a defendant has breached the required...

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23 cases
  • Biswell v. Duncan
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • August 18, 1987
    ...the right and safety of others," the court should eliminate the issue of punitive damages as a matter of law. 6 See Jackson v. Dabney, 645 P.2d 613, 615 (Utah 1982). DOUBLE Duncan claims that the imposition of punitive damages in this civil suit against her, where a criminal penalty was ass......
  • Williams v. Melby
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • March 29, 1985
    ...and the like. III. Whether a defendant has breached the required standard of care is generally a question for the jury, Jackson v. Dabney, Utah, 645 P.2d 613 (1982), to be determined by whether the injury which occurred was of the type that fell within the zone of risk created by the defend......
  • Wycalis v. Guardian Title of Utah
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • August 29, 1989
    ...that "[o]rdinarily, whether a defendant has breached the required standard of care is a question of fact for the jury." Jackson v. Dabney, 645 P.2d 613, 615 (Utah 1982). See also Ingram, 733 P.2d at 127; Bowen, 656 P.2d at 437; FMA Acceptance Co. v. Leatherby Ins. Co., 594 P.2d 1332, 1334-3......
  • Stern v. Metro. Water Dist. of Salt Lake & Sandy, 20100339.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • March 20, 2012
    ...the issues as to ... reasonableness of use, and extent of damage and interference are usually intertwined.”). 41. See Jackson v. Dabney, 645 P.2d 613, 615 (Utah 1982) (“A genuine issue of fact exists where, on the basis of the facts in the record, reasonable minds could differ on whether de......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Understanding Legal Malpractice
    • United States
    • Utah State Bar Utah Bar Journal No. 11-1, February 1998
    • Invalid date
    ...§ 5.3 (4th ed. 1996). [11]See id. §5.3. [12]Elizabeth Cohen, "Afraid of Ghosts", ABA Journal, Dec. 1997, at 80. [13] Jackson v. Dabney, 645 P.2d 613, 615 (Utah 1982). [14]Young v. Bridwell, 437 P.2d 686, 690 (Utah 1968). [15] Model Utah Jury Instruction 7.45. [16] John Gibeaut, "Avoiding Tr......

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