Legal malpractice cases under Minnesota law remind me of Russian Matryoshka dolls, also known as “nesting dolls” or layer cakes because we deal with “the case within a case.” The theory is that if Attorney A screws up and Client loses Lawsuit #1, Attorney A cannot be held liable for legal malpractice if Client never could have won Lawsuit #1 in the absence of the legal malpractice.
There is no question that legal malpractice lawsuits that include the “case-within-a-case” challenge face substantial hurdles.
Now imagine a case-within-a-case-within-a-case…A piece of cake, right?
In a case first noted in a 2013 Minnesota Litigator post, Ryan Contracting Co. sued the law firm of Meagher & Gear for alleged malpractice in a lien foreclosure matter, having hired Patrick O’Neill, then of the St. Paul plaintiff’s-side legal malpractice law firm of O’Neill & Murphy. Ryan then sued O’Neill for alleged malpractice in the malpractice claim against Meagher & Gear.