I just read two appeals cases that cost the parties a whole boatload of unnecessary time and legal fees, all because their lawyers made technical mistakes that had nothing to do with who was right, and who was wrong, in the original dispute.
One case was Lowery v. Boswell, 107 So.3d 212 (Ala. Civ. App. 2012). On July 8, 2010, Lowery filed an eviction suit against Boswell. Lowery won. Boswell appealed. Lowery won again. Boswell appealed again. Over two years later, on September 21, 2012, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals ruled the original appeal was not filed in time, which made the later appeal void. None of the lawyers caught the mistake–the court had to point it out to them! The case should have been over two years earlier.
The other case was Field v. Chandler, Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, #2120223, decided April 26, 2013. Chandler was a postal carrier. He was attacked by a Rottweiler owned by Cain, who was a tenant of a landlord named Fielder. Chandler, of course, sued Fielder, claiming his injuries were the landlord’s fault for allowing a dangerous dog on the premises. [Note–I’ll have a future post on the subject of landlords and tenants with dangerous animals.]
The jury found in favor of the landlord. BUT, the judge declared a mistrial for reasons unrelated to the merits of the case. There was a flurry of motions, and then an appeal. The court ruled that the appeal was filed too early, and was therefor void. All that wasted time and money, and everybody had to go back to the trial court and start all over with their motions!
My point-make sure you hire a good lawyer when you have legal problems, make sure you have a good contract in case there are problems, don’t be afraid to ask for proof of malpractice insurance, and stay involved in your legal issues instead of just turning it all over to the lawyers!
If there is enough interest, I’ll host a free webinar on how to find and hire good lawyers, and how to protect yourself if the lawyer doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Let me know if you are interested.