A legal malpractice expert witness advises on a case involving the family of a nursing home negligence victim. Plaintiffs are the nieces and nephews — the only living relatives — of a woman who allegedly died as a result of substandard nursing home care. The plaintiffs contracted with the defendant law firm to prosecute the wrongful death case against the nursing home. The trial court granted the defendant nursing home summary judgment, finding the family members did not have standing to bring the lawsuit because no estate had been opened and the action was not asserted by the estate or a spouse, parent, child or sibling as required by the state’s wrongful death statute. While the law firm had filed a petition in chancery court to open the estate, it did not obtain a determination of heirship or seek permission to assert a claim on behalf of the heirs. It also did not file a response to the motion for summary judgment and did not appeal.
The heirs sued the law firm for legal malpractice, negligence, gross negligence, fraudulent concealment, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and for actual and punitive damages.