Attorneys face the prospect of legal malpractice actions on a daily basis and in regard to every type of legal issue with which they deal. Indeed, a lawyer's negligence subjects him to liability whether he has mishandled a multimillion dollar business transaction or failed to adequately represent his client in a custody battle over the client's children. Whereas the harm in the former example is clearly monetary, the latter example presents the issue of whether the client can recover monetary damages for loss of custody of his child, a harm that is non-economic in nature. While few people would likely argue that loss of custody of a child is not a cognizable harm, under Missouri's current law, damages based on such a harm are not recoverable in a legal malpractice action. Although Missouri courts have not yet squarely faced the issue, Collins v. Missouri Bar Plan raises the question, the answer to which would establish whether Missouri allows damages for loss of society based on loss of custody in a legal malpractice action.
Jesse E. Weisshaar,
Does Loss of Custody of a Child Resulting from Attorney Negligence Cause Damage,
70 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol70/iss4/17