The trial court erred in granting defendant attorney a new trial in this case in which the client sued him for fraud by concealment and for intentional breach of fiduciary duty arising from the attorney’s undisclosed conflicts of interest in negotiating a settlement for plaintiff with a party that the attorney secretly assured he would not act contrary to its interests and to which he secretly funneled information about plaintiff. In such a case, the plaintiff need not prove that she would have obtained a better result had the attorney not acted wrongfully, as she would in a normal negligent malpractice action against an attorney. Instead, the plaintiff bears only the ordinary burden of proving the attorney’s wrongful conduct was a substantial factor in causing her harm. Also, plaintiff’s own testimony regarding her emotional distress was sufficiently substantial evidence of emotional distress damages to support the jury’s verdict; plaintiff was not required to bolster her own testimony with expert testimony on the subject since emotional distress is a matter within a juror’s common experience.
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3 (Fybel, J.); August 8, 2018 (partial publication); 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 694