Terry Batzli, a family law practitioner, was recently awarded damages in a lawsuit filed against his legal malpractice carrier. A Richmond federal jury found in favor of Batzli and his firm and consequently awarded $8,400 in damages.
Batzli had represented Richard Chasen in 2006 in his divorce from Karen Chasen. Richard claims he told Batzli that he wanted Karen’s 20 percent interest in the family business. That proposal was made to Karen, but there was no response, so Batzli drafted an agreement that Richard would receive only “his” interest, instead of both his and Karen’s interest. This agreement was signed before the error was found. Batzli tried to correct the mistake by filing a “motion to correct scrivener’s error” in August 2006. The Richmond Circuit Court denied the motion and the denial was later upheld by the Virginia Court of Appeals.
Richard sued Batzli for legal malpractice in 2009. Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, Batzli’s malpractice carrier, was notified of the suit. However, the malpractice carrier stated that the notice of the claim was too late and filed a dec action in Richmond U.S. District Court.
Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company made the allegation that Batzli had knowledge of sufficient facts that could have supported a claim “more than two years prior to the date of notice” to the carrier. Batzli made a counterclaim for breach of contract and brought his claim for damages to a jury, which ended up finding in his favor.