June 26, 2003
LOUIS HAJIMIHALIS, APPELLANT,
DIMITRI O. MALLIOS, ET AL., APPELLEES.
Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CA259-02) (Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Trial Judge)
Before Farrell and Reid, Associate Judges, and Kern, Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kern, Senior Judge
Argued May 28, 2003
This is an appeal from the trial court's order pursuant to Super. Ct. Civ. R. 12 (b)(6) dismissing appellant's complaint for "Legal Malpractice" against appellees on the ground that such complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief might be granted.*fn1 Appellant's complaint in essence claimed that appellees, who are attorneys, had "represented or advised [him]. . . for . . . more than thirty (30) years on various legal matters" and had prepared an agreement and "represented to . . .[him] that the agreement contained a specific personal guarantee of payment by Frank Economides." The complaint further alleged that appellees over the years represented to him "that Economides was bound absolutely by the purported personal guarantees of payments as prepared by the . . . [appellees]."
This court has established that in reviewing a Rule 12 (b)(6) dismissal order we must construe the allegations of fact in the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and assume all allegations are true. We have stated: "we are testing only the legal sufficiency of the complaint and not whether appellants will prevail ultimately on the claim." Leonard v. District of Columbia, 794 A.2d 618, 629 (D.C. 2002). Here, appellant's allegations that (1) the parties to the loan "use[d] an agreement wholly prepared by [appellees]," and (2) "[a]t all times, and over the years, [appellees] represented to [appellant] that the agreement contained a specific personal guarantee of payment by Frank Economides," and (3) that "at no time did [appellees] advise [appellant] that a statute of limitation . . . was expiring or at issue with respect to the loans at issue" must be viewed as true when deciding whether to dismiss this case under Rule 12 (b)(6).
The conscientious trial judge, in dismissing the complaint, relied upon this court's Memorandum Opinion and Judgment in Hajimihalis v. Economides entered on February 8, 2001, but this decision is inapposite to the instant case. There, we affirmed the trial court's decision that appellant's claim against Mr. Economides for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation failed because the contract between the parties prepared by appellees did not contain a guaranty proviso binding Economides to answer for the debts of others as asserted by appellant.*fn2 Here, appellant's claim is that appellees, who are attorneys, engaged in legal malpractice by preparing for execution a contract that appellant executed but did not intend and thereafter advising him incorrectly as to the terms of such contract, thereby lulling him into taking no action until the statute of limitations barred any claim he might have.*fn3
Whatever the merits of appellant's claim may be, his complaint did state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Accordingly, the order of dismissal pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) must be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.