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John, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed and practicing attorney.
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I am looking for Michigan Case Law regarding breach of contract

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I am looking for Michigan Case Law regarding breach of contract where the Attorney cause the breach of contract
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. First off, your complaint in this matter isn't one of breach of contract under Michigan law; it is one of negligence - i.e., attorney malpractice. Indeed, you are alleging malpractice on behalf of an attorney you retained to pursue a malpractice claim against another attorney. See Brownell v Garber, 199 Mich App 519, 522; 503 NW2d 81, 82 (1993)

Second, to prove claim of malpractice against an attorney (negligence by the attorney) , a plaintiff must prove (1) the existence of an attorney-client relationship, (2) negligence in the legal representation of the plaintiff, (3) that the negligence was the proximate cause of an injury, and (4) the fact and extent of the injury alleged. Charles Reinhart Co. v. Winiemko, 444 Mich. 579, 585-586, 513 N.W.2d 773 (1994). Further, where the alleged malpractice results from the failure to diligently pursue or timely file a client's claim, a plaintiff seeking to establish the third and fourth elements of the claim, i.e., proximate cause and damages, must show that but for the attorney's alleged malpractice she would have been successful in the underlying suit. Id. at 586, 513 N.W.2d 773; Basic Food Industries v. Grant, 107 Mich.App. 685, 691, 310 N.W.2d 26 (1981)

Estate of Mitchell v Dougherty, 249 Mich App 668, 676; 644 NW2d 391, 396 (2002).

Third, I'm not sure if you considered filing a claim with the attorney grievance commission against this attorney, because both the fee arrangement and the handling of the matter sound actionable to me. And, the grievance commission may very well prosecute the matter for you to get your fee back. You can file a charge with the grievance commission at this website. But if you want more than your fee back (i.e., you want your fee and plus what you fee you were owed from your first attorney) you will need to prove the five elements listed in the Estate of Mitchell case - 1) the existence of an attorney-client relationship, (2) negligence in the legal representation of the plaintiff, (3) that the negligence was the proximate cause of an injury, and (4) the fact and extent of the injury alleged, and (5) that you would have been successful in that suit but for your attorney's non-action.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – select the Reply to Expert or Continue Conversation button. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I did know I could file a legal malpractice suit but that kind of suit was far more challenging for a layperson... I thought that filing a breach of contract would be easier as far as the proving elements.... besides I am already through case evaluation and simply want to file a motion for summary disposition. I need to have case law that defends my position for breach of contract.... I used in my complaint various citation violation under the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct... example communication, fees, appearance, due diligence, etc. I even review decision by the attorney grievance commission as a guide in my pleadings... so all I need is to apply case law to the use...I reviewed an article online "Damages for Breach of Contract: Measurement and Limitations" and became even more confused as to what/how I make my legal argument!... nonperformance, defective performance, etc. Please Help!

Ok, I'll get you some breach of contract caselaw. Give me a little time, be right back.

In interpreting a contract, the obligation of the court is to determine the intent of the contracting parties. Sobczak v. Kotwicki, 347 Mich. 242, 249, 79 N.W.2d 471 (1956). If the language of the contract is unambiguous, courts construe and enforce the contract as written. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. of Michigan v. Nikkel, 460 Mich. 558, 570, 596 N.W.2d 915 (1999). Thus, an unambiguous contractual provision is reflective of the parties' intent as a matter of law. Once discerned, the intent of the parties will be enforced unless it is contrary to public policy. Id.The elements of a contract are consent, consideration and a parties substantial breach of the agreement. Id. To determine whether a substantial breach occurred, a trial court considers “whether the nonbreaching party obtained the benefit which he or she reasonably expected to receive.” Holtzlander v. Brownell, 182 Mich.App. 716, 722, 453 N.W.2d 295 (1990).


You should also consider reviewing the Michigan model civil jury instructions, which clearly explain all the elements of proof in a contract action as well as damages and defenses.

Able Demolition v Pontiac, 275 Mich App 577, 582; 739 NW2d 696, 700 (2007)

Hope this helps

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