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Florida Fourth DCA holds that statute of limitations for legal malpractice case did not begin to run until entry of amended final judgment following reversal of final judgment on appeal

On October 25, 2017, in Forest v. Batts, No. 4D16-4066, the Florida Fourth DCA reversed a trial court’s entry of a summary judgment for the defense in a legal malpractice case. The legal malpractice case had been filed by the plaintiff against the law firm that had represented her in a dissolution of marriage action which resulted in a final judgment on January 24, 2011. The plaintiff had appealed the final judgment, and the Fourth DCA had affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding the case to the trial court to make additional findings. The trial court entered an amended final judgment on August 13, 2013. The wife filed the legal malpractice lawsuit in July of 2014, within the two-year statute of limitations period following the amended final judgment, but outside the two-year statute of limitations period following the original final judgment. The defendant law firm successfully argued before the trial court that the appeal of the original final judgment should be ignored for statute of limitations purposes because the basis for the alleged legal malpractice was unrelated to the issues raised in that appeal. The Fourth DCA rejected this argument, citing the Florida Supreme Court decision in Larson & Larson, P.A. v. TSE Indus., Inc., 22 So. 3d 36 (Fla. 2009) as articulating a bright line rule that a cause of action for legal malpractice does not accrue until the underlying legal proceeding has been completed on appellate review.