Targonski v. Clebowicz
As a general matter, once the attorney-client relationship ends, the prior representation does not give rise to any continuing duty; but, even after representation ends, if an attorney learns of negligent service to the client at a time when he has the power to remedy the problems arising from it, he owes a duty to his client, which relates back to his original wrong of rendering negligent services, to correct the results of such prior negligence. Agnes and Krzysztof Targonski brought this action for legal malpractice against Walter Cleboicz, who represented them in the purchase of real property, claiming, relevantly, that after the defendant negligently failed to include a right-of-way in their deed, he engaged in a continuous course of conduct to prolong the harm flowing from his drafting error by failing to respond to letters from the seller's attorney proposing to cure the defective deed through an easement agreement. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment claiming that C.G.S. §52-577 barred the claims because his representation of the plaintiffs in their purchase of the premises ended in July 2004, more than three years before this action commenced in March, 2009. The plaintiffs appealed claiming that summary judgment was improper because the evidence before the court raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the continuing course of conduct doctrine tolled the statute of limitations. The Appellate Court agreed and reversed the judgment. The plaintiffs presented evidence, written communications between the defendant and the seller's attorney, tending to establish that, upon learning of his earlier negligence in drafting the deed, the defendant breached an ongoing duty to the plaintiffs to correct his prior error when he had the opportunity to do so. Because the offer to rectify the error through an easement agreement was not withdrawn until the seller filed suit against the plaintiffs to enjoin further use of the driveway in 2008, the defendant's opportunity to cure his negligence lasted until well within three years of the commencement of this action in 2009. The defendant's failure to inform the plaintiffs of the defects in their deed, or of their opportunity to cure them through the easement agreement or otherwise, constituted later wrongful conduct in violation of a continuing duty related to the defendant's original breach.