In order to establish a claim of legal malpractice, a plaintiff must demonstrate three basic elements:
1) employment of the attorney or other basis for a duty; 2) the failure of the attorney to exercise ordinary skill and knowledge; and 3) that such negligence was the proximate cause of damage to the plaintiff. Rizzo v. Haines, 520 Pa. 484, 499, 555 A.2d 58, 65 (1989).
An essential element to this cause of action is proof of actual loss rather than a breach of a professional duty causing only nominal damages, speculative harm or the threat of future harm. Id. at 504-05, 555 A.2d at 68. Damages are considered remote or speculative only if there is uncertainty concerning the identification of the existence of damages rather than the ability to precisely calculate the amount or value of damages. Id. In essence, a legal malpractice action in Pennsylvania requires the plaintiff to prove that he had a viable cause of action against the party he wished to sue in the underlying case and that the attorney he hired was negligent in prosecuting or defending that underlying case (often referred to as proving a “case within a case”). Kituskie v. Corbman, 552 Pa. 275, 281, 714 A.2d 1027, 1029-30 (1998).
If you believe that you may have a viable claim for legal malpractice against your former Pennsylvania attorney, please feel free to contact an attorney at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, with attorneys licensed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.