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Forti v. Ashcraft

December 30, 2004

CAROL A. FORTI, APPELLANT,
v.
ASHCRAFT & GEREL, ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CA-2028-02). (Hon. James E. Boasberg, Trial Judge).

Before Schwelb and Farrell, Associate Judges, and Belson, Senior Judge.

Per curiam.

Argued December 16, 2004

In this action for legal malpractice, the trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants after the plaintiff-appellant, herself an attorney, failed to meet repeated deadlines within which to name an expert witness and file a corresponding statement pursuant to Super. Ct. Civ. R. 26 (b)(4). On appeal, the plaintiff does not dispute that expert testimony was necessary to prove legal malpractice by the defendants in conducting her underlying (and unsuccessful) suit for medical malpractice. See O'Neil v. Bergan, 452 A.2d 337, 341 (D.C. 1982). She argues instead that the trial court abused its discretion by not granting her still more time in which to name an expert witness, because her inability to meet the deadlines the court had set resulted entirely - in her view - from the failure of the Court Reporting and Recording Division of the Superior Court to provide a complete and accurate transcript of the testimony in the underlying case.

The trial court, after a hearing, rejected this excuse in a thorough and carefully explained written decision, concluding inter alia that the plaintiff's failure to meet the discovery deadlines was willful. We adopt that opinion and append it hereto.*fn1 To the trial court's analysis we add only that Super. Ct. Civ. R. 56 (f) provides a means by which the plaintiff could have shown, through an affidavit of any legal expert she had consulted, why specific transcript portions then unavailable to the expert were necessary to the rendering of an opinion. That the plaintiff made no such showing lends additional support to the trial court's conclusion that she had not named an expert because, in fact, she had none "willing to agree that legal malpractice was committed here."

The trial court's order granting summary judgment is, therefore,

Affirmed.

APPENDIX

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIVIL DIVISION

Judge Boasberg

Calendar 10

ORDER (1) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO VACATE ORAL "FINAL" ORDER GIVEN APRIL 18, 2003, AND (2) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

The Court has reviewed Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff's Status Report to the Court Regarding Transcripts and Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Proponent's 26(b)(4) Statement, Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate Oral "Final" Order ...


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