Ericksen Arbuthnot Prevails in Professional Liability Action

July 2015

Ericksen Arbuthnot attorneys Charles S. Painter and Graham M. Cridland of the firm’s Sacramento office obtained a dismissal without payment of money on behalf of their client, an attorney allegedly having committed legal malpractice in a case involving a successive representation conflict of interest.

The firm’s client was a practicing attorney who was approached by the Plaintiff in 2011 to assist in the preparation of a restraining order petition against his wife. Approximately two years later, Plaintiff’s sister retained the firm’s client to prepare a petition to obtain custody of Plaintiff’s two minor children. Plaintiff stipulated to the custody petition, but thereafter filed a motion to disqualify the firm’s client in the ongoing enforcement proceedings related to the custody order.

Plaintiff was successful in disqualifying the attorney, and then sued for legal malpractice and infliction of emotional distress. Ericksen Arbuthnot was hired to defend the legal malpractice and infliction of emotional distress lawsuit. After taking the Plaintiff’s deposition, Ericksen Arbuthnot filed a motion for summary judgment based on the litigation privilege, pointing out that since the legal wrong alleged in the Complaint was based on the firm’s client’s own representation of a third party in a legal proceeding, it could not be the subject of a negligence or emotional distress action (citing O’Neil v. Cunningham (1981) 118 Cal.App.3d 456.)

Plaintiff spontaneously offered to dismiss in return for a waiver of costs on the day Plaintiff’s opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due.

Our client had this to say: “Charles Painter and Graham Cridland did a fantastic job of representing me. They were professional, knowledgeable, courteous, compassionate, and always impressive. I learned a great deal from having them represent me, and I will carry the experience with me as I continue to practice law. Had the case not involved me personally, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching Mr. Painter and Mr. Cridland in action. As it was, they made it as painless as possible through their competent and excellent work in my behalf. I could not have asked for a better team and I give both my highest recommendation.”

Mr. Painter can be reached at 916.483.5181 or . Mr. Cridland can be reached at 916.483.5181 or