Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - Las Vegas - Gibbons/Tao/Bulla

Oceania Ins. Corp. vs. Cogan
Docket Number: 74958-COA
Las Vegas - 3:00P.M. - Gibbons/Tao/Bulla

Oceania Insurance Corporation appealed from a district court order dismissing its complaint in a legal malpractice action. Oceania sued Jeffrey A. Cogan, Esq., and his law firm in connection with his prior representation of the company in a federal case. In that case, the district court entered a default judgment against Oceania and ordered that the judgment be partially satisfied by assigning a majority of Oceania’s shares and all of its causes of action to the plaintiff. Oceania then filed the underlying action against Cogan, which the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim. On appeal, Oceania argued that the allegations in its complaint were sufficient to state a claim for legal malpractice. In response, Cogan argued for the first time that Oceania lacked standing to pursue the claim because allowing it to do so would run afoul of Nevada law prohibiting the assignment of legal malpractice claims (because the federal court essentially assigned the claim to the plaintiff in the prior action when it ordered Oceania’s shares and causes of action to be transferred). The Court of Appeals initially reversed the district court’s decision, holding that Oceania stated a viable claim for legal malpractice and that it had standing to do so because it—not the plaintiff from the federal case—brought the claim. However, Cogan filed a petition for rehearing challenging the reversal, arguing that the plaintiff from the federal case—not Oceania—was actually maintaining the malpractice action and that the Court of Appeals therefore misapprehended Nevada law prohibiting the assignment of legal malpractice claims. The Court of Appeals granted the petition and set the matter for oral argument on the issue raised therein.

ISSUES:

Would allowing Oceania to maintain the underlying action run afoul of Nevada law prohibiting the assignment of legal malpractice claims?

Disclaimer:

This synopsis is intended to provide only general information about this case before the Court of Appeals. It is not intended to be all-inclusive or reflect all positions of the parties.