Professional malpractice claims may be some of the most challenging cases to bring for a host of reasons but there such cases brought every day. Ralph Schmitz was negotiating a transaction with the help of legal counsel from the law firm of Rinke Noonan. The deal did not go forward. Consequently, Schmitz got sued and $1 million (and $180,000 legal fees) later, Schmitz concluded that he was not well advised when (and how) he withdrew from the underlying deal.
The case went to trial, but the district court granted Rinke Noonan’s motion for judgment as a matter of law at the close of plaintiff’s case. Earlier, however, the district court had denied Rinke Noonan’s motion for summary judgment.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals (Stoneburner, Toussaint, Connolly) affirmed the district court’s grant of Rinke Noonan’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (based on lack of causation, failure to show breach of required standard of care). Moreover, after analyzing whether the appellate court could review a denial of summary judgment (conclusion: yes, in this case), the Court of Appeals determined that Rinke Noonan had been entitled to summary judgment because of plaintiff’s failure to meet the requirements of the affidavit of expert review. The affidavit’s statements with regard to causation, the appellate court found, were “speculative and conjectural.”