Feb 4 2019

Courtroom Success 2019-2: Morrison Mahoney Partner Mike Keller and Associate Eva Kolstad Prevail in Connecticut Appellate Court

Morrison Mahoney Partner Mike Keller and Associate Eva Kolstad recently obtained a decision from the Connecticut Appellate Court affirming the trial court’s granting of the defendants’ motion to dismiss in a legal malpractice case. At the trial level, the plaintiff claimed that our client, his child’s court-appointed guardian ad litem and her law firm, committed legal malpractice during the scope of his underlying divorce action.  The Complaint also contained counts alleging negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  We were successful on a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked standing because he did not have an attorney-client relationship with our client and because our client was entitled to immunity for her actions as a court-appointed guardian ad litem.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued the trial court failed to consider whether the alleged conduct, including alleged intentional conduct, of the defendant fell outside the scope of a guardian ad litem’s authority, thereby improperly finding the defendant was entitled to absolutely immunity, and that the court failed to consider public policy implications. The underlying Complaint alleged, in particular, that the defendant acted “vindictively” to limit the plaintiff’s access to his minor child by informing the Family Court of the plaintiff’s arrest on charges including Risk of Injury to a Minor and Third Degree Assault.  We argued on appeal that the trial court properly considered whether the allegations fell outside the scope of a GAL’s role, and that allegations of intentional conduct did nothing to strip that immunity.  We further argued that the trial court’s decision was directly in line with and followed Connecticut’s well-settled public policy, which affords guardian ad litems like our client absolute quasi-judicial immunity.  The Appellate Court agreed and affirmed the trial court’s decision in favor of the defendants. 

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