Novel Application of In Pari Delicto Yields Summary Judgment for Lawyer
On November 17, 2010, Shannon Sprinkle and Joe Kingma defeated claims by a recently divorced husband against a lawyer who at one time had represented both husband and wife. The husband claimed that the lawyer, while representing both the husband and the wife, drafted a divorce agreement which was adopted and made a part of the divorce decree. He claimed that there was a “side deal” to give parcels of land back to him after the divorce was final. The trial judge based his grant of summary judgment on the terms of the executed settlement agreement and his unwillingness to collaterally attack the divorce decree which had not been vacated. Additionally, the judge ruled that the husband’s assertions amounted to a confession of an attempt to defraud his creditors. “The principal that a plaintiff who has participated in wrongdoing may not recover damages resulting from the wrongdoing,” in pari delicto, is a common defense in accounting malpractice cases, but is seldom seen in attorney malpractice cases. This result was appealed and upheld.