Legal malpractice cases are generally taken care of in state courts, because this area of law typically falls under state law torts. However, in some cases, when the legal malpractice case stems from a case that involved federal law, the federal courts may have jurisdiction. This is a very complicated distinction, and of course it is of the utmost importance that a legal malpractice claim--or any legal claim, for that matter--is filed in the correct court.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take on a case that asks it to decide whether the federal courts or state courts have jurisdiction over legal malpractice claims that arise from patent law cases. Patent law is a federal matter and the Supreme Court's decision on this issue is expected to have a broad impact.
This case dates back to 2010 when a former broker and investor filed a patent infringement lawsuit in state court against NASDAQ. The case was thrown out because the court thought the plaintiff did not provide evidence of his claims. The man appealed, but the Texas Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court. But later the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state did not have jurisdiction over this case at all because the legal malpractice case required a large review of a patent law question, which is not an area the state court handles.
The Texas Supreme Court dismissed the case, and now the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to review it.
Legal malpractice is a very complicated area of law on its own, and this is multiplied when state law and federal law intersects. Those who file legal malpractice claims have a lot at stake and it is important that their claims are handled properly so that they can be resolved in the best way possible.
Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Do all patent-related malpractice suits belong in federal court?" Alison Frankel, Oct. 8, 2012
- Our New Jersey litigation and appeals law firm handles legal malpractice cases.