Togstad v. Vesely, Otto, Miller, Keefe

291 N.W.2d 686 (1980)


P was partially paralyzed after a physician committed malpractice during P's hospitalization. 

About 14 months after P's hospitalization began, Joan Togstad met with attorney Miller (D) regarding P's condition. There was no prior relationship between Ps and Ds. P's former work supervisor, Ted Bucholz, made the appointment and accompanied Joan to Miller's office. Bucholz was present when Joan and Miller discussed the case. It just so happened that Bucholz dies prior to the trial in this action. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. Joan spilled her guts about her what she believed. Miller took notes and asked questions. At the conclusion, Miller stated he did not believe she had a case, but he was going to discuss it with his partner. Joan never heard from Miller again during the next year. No fee arrangements were discussed, no medical authorizations were requested, nor was Joan billed for the interview. Joan denied that Miller told her to seek other representation as his firm did not do such cases. Joan denies being told about the statute of limitations nor to seek other legal advice. The statute of limitations ran, and Ps sued Ds for legal malpractice. Ps’ expert testified that as a minimum, a competent medical malpractice attorney would review hospital records and consult a medical expert. Ds conceded that hospital records should have been reviewed. D was found negligent and Ps were awarded about $650,000 total in damages. Ds appealed the denial of its motion for j.n.o.v. or a new trial.