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If the following are not the two questions you were referring to, please be kind enough to let me know
1. What specifically would the basis be for recovering the $3,000 in small claims court?
2. What specifically (would the basis be for recovering any additional damages due to the professional negligence of the lawyer to pursue a valid claim for which I would have likely prevailed, but for the lawyer's malpractice?
When you retained the Attorney and he agreed to represent you, a contract was formed. If the Attorney did not adhere to the contract terms, your basis for recovery would be for breach of contract. In deciding the case, the Judge would apply two common law legal principles; first, "Unjust Enrichment" and second, "Quantum Meruit".
The principle of Unjust Enrichment stands for the proposition that the law does not permit an individual to benefit or profit at the expense of another individual. For example, assume a homeowner pays a contractor to build him a two-car garage and pays the contractor the cost of constructing a two-car garage. The contractor takes the homeowner's payment, but constructs only a one-car garage. If the contractor were permitted to keep the full amount, he would unjustly benefit at the expense of the homeowner who only got a one-car garage. Therefore the Judge would apply the legal Principle of Unjust Enrichment and Order the contractor to return that part of the payment which he did not earn.
In the above example, in order for the Judge to determine what amount should be refunded to the homeowner, he would apply the legal Principle of "Quantum Meruit" and state that although the contractor cannot retain the full amount, the principle would dictate that the contractor be awarded an amount which would be commensurate with the amount of work that he did.
Similarly, in your situation, if this is the case in which the Attorney allowed the Statute of Limitations to expire, then he would not be awarded any amount. However, if this was not the suit against your employer for wrongful termination, then the Judge would take the position that the Attorney would not be permitted to keep the full $3,000 you paid him because you stated that he did only the minimum amount of work. However, the Judge would also state that although the Attorney did not do all of the work agreed upon, he did some of the work, minimal as it was, and must be compensated in an amount commensurate with the amount and quality of the services he performed.
The basis for recovering an additional amount because of the Attorney's malpractice would be on a negligence theory, i.e., the Attorney was negligent in allowing the Statute of Limitations to expire in your case. Once the Attorney's negligence was established by the Court, the issue of damages would be addressed. In determining the amount of damages you would be awarded, the Court conducts something of a "case within a case". The Judge would state a hypothetical example, such as,
"If the Attorney had not been negligent and if the Attorney had not allowed the Statute of Limitations to expire and if the Attorney had pursued your case for wrongful termination, what would a Judge or jury have awarded you as damages for your wrongful termination."
And, in that manner, the amount of damages would be determined,
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