Governor DeWine Signs Bill Creating Four-Year Statute of Repose for Legal Malpractice Actions

Gallagher Sharp LLP By Gallagher Sharp LLP

On March 16, 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 13, which will amend R.C. 2305.11 and enact R.C. 2305.117 to create a four-year statute of repose for legal malpractice actions effective June 14, 2021. This is a significant change in the attorney professional liability landscape in Ohio.

Legal malpractice in Ohio is subject to a one-year statute of limitations which encompasses both a “termination rule” and “discovery rule,” meaning that a plaintiff has one year from the latter of the termination of the attorney-client relationship or the date the alleged injury was discovered to file suit. The one-year statute of limitations is still in effect, but the new statute of repose will bar all claims commenced more than four years “after the occurrence of the act or omission constituting the alleged basis of the legal malpractice claim.” Additionally, a plaintiff who does not bring a legal malpractice claim within three years after the subject act or omission must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged injury could not have been discovered with reasonable care and diligence. The plaintiff would then have one year to file a legal malpractice claim.

In addition to the statute of repose for attorneys, Senate Bill 13 shortens the statute of limitations for actions upon an expired written contract from eight years to six, and an expired oral contract from six years to four.

Senate Bill 13 serves to protect attorneys from the unlimited liability previously possible. Attorneys in Ohio are now assured that they will not be held liable more than four years after an allegedly tortious act or omission.

Senate Bill 13 can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Monica A. Sansalone.