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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "Lawyer Has Triable Tort Claim Against Client That Allegedly Got Her Kicked Out as Partner"

The Court of Appeals' Dec. 11th opinion in Carol Sparks Drake v. Thomas A. Dickey, Craig Anderson, Charles E. Podell, and Duke Realty Corporation (ILB summary here) is the subject of a lengthy article today by Joan C. Rogers in Bloomberg BNA. A few quotes:

Carol Sparks Drake was a partner in the law firm of Parr Richey Obremskey & Morton when one of the firm's clients, Duke Realty Corp., announced plans to develop land adjacent to a farm Drake owned.

When Drake refused to sell the farm to Duke Realty, Parr Richey stopped representing the company in regard to the project; however, after Drake and Duke Realty entered into a land use agreement that limited how the company could develop the property, Parr Richey resumed the representation.

Drake and Duke Realty had numerous disagreements after executing the land use agreement. Shortly after Drake sent Duke Realty a letter outlining the company's alleged breaches of the agreement, Duke Realty representatives met with Parr Richey partners and informed them that if Drake protested or filed a complaint on the land use agreement, Parr Richey's attorney-client relationship with Duke Realty would be terminated.

A Parr Richey partner then told Drake that “this could be your job … if you don't sell your farm to Duke Realty.” Two other partners told her she would be terminated from the partnership unless she sold the farm to Duke Realty. When Drake still refused to sell, the Parr Richey partners held a meeting and removed her as a partner.

Drake sued Duke Realty for tortious interference with her partnership agreement with Parr Richey. The trial court granted Duke Realty's motion for summary judgment, and Drake appealed.

The appeals court concluded that Drake is entitled to a trial on her tortious interference claim.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 31, 2013 02:04 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions