Cuyler v. Minns

In Cuyler v. Minns, 60 S.W.3d 209 (Tex. App.--Houston 14th Dist. 2001, pet. denied), the plaintiff sued his former attorneys on claims of legal malpractice, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence, among other claims. 60 S.W.3d at 212. In response, the attorneys filed both traditional and no-evidence summary judgment motions, which the trial court granted. Id. The appellate court found that plaintiff's breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims represented "an impermissible fracturing of her claim for legal malpractice." Id. at 216. Thus, the court held that, since the traditional summary judgment on the plaintiffs legal malpractice claim was proper, summary judgment on the breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty causes of action was also proper. Id. In sum two attorneys tried their client's automobile accident claim to a jury, which awarded $ 5,000 in damages. Cuyler, 60 S.W.3d at 212. The client sued the defendant attorney for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, negligence, DTPA violations, negligence per se, and violations of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Id. The Court concluded that Cuyler's claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty represented an impermissible fracturing of her legal malpractice claim. Id. at 216 ("If a lawyer's error or mistake is actionable, it should give rise to a cause of action for legal malpractice with one set of issues which inquire if the conduct or omission occurred, if that conduct or omission was malpractice and if so, subsequent issues on causation and damages." (quoting Sledge v. Alsup, 759 S.W.2d 1, 2 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1988, no writ))).