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Stokes v. Duncan

Stokes v. Duncan, 2015 MT 92 (March 24, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; Cotter, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether debtor’s legal malpractice claim accrued at the time of filing bankruptcy, making it part of the bankruptcy estate.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: In 2008, a jury returned a verdict against John Stokes for defamation, with damages of about $4 million. Stokes appealed, and retained attorney Greg Duncan to advise him on how to maintain the appeal while discharging the obligation in bankruptcy. Stokes contends Duncan advised him he could discharge the judgment in bankruptcy and maintain his appeal. Duncan filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Stokes’ behalf in March 2009. After a creditors’ meeting in April 2009, Duncan moved to withdraw as counsel due to disagreements over who was responsible for Stokes’ incomplete disclosure of assets.…