Arizona Attorney Liability to a Third Person

In Fickett v. Superior Court, 27 Ariz. App. 793, 558 P.2d 988 (1976), the conservator of an incompetent's estate sued the attorney for the former guardian, alleging the attorney had negligently failed "to discover that the guardian had embarked upon a scheme to liquidate the guardianship estate by misappropriation and conversion of the funds to his own use and by making improper investments for his personal benefit." 27 Ariz. App. at 794, 558 P.2d at 989. In analyzing whether the guardian's attorney owed a duty to the ward, this court stated: The determination of whether, in a specific case, the attorney will be held liable to a third person not in privity is a matter of policy and involves the balancing of various factors, among which are the extent to which the transaction was intended to affect the plaintiff, the foreseeability of harm to him, the degree of certainty that the plaintiff suffered injury, the closeness of the connection between the defendant's conduct and the injuries suffered, the moral blame attached to the defendant's conduct, and the policy of preventing future harm. Id. at 795, 558 P.2d at 990. Under the particular "circumstances presented" in Fickett, the Court concluded that, "when an attorney undertakes to represent the guardian of an incompetent, he assumes a relationship not only with the guardian but also with the ward." Id. Accordingly, we upheld the trial court's denial of the attorney's motion for summary judgment because he had "failed to establish the absence of a legal relationship and concomitant duty to the ward." Id. at 796, 558 P.2d at 991.