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Miller v. Finizio & Finizio, P.A.

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

August 23, 2017

GEORGETA MILLER, Appellant,
v.
FINIZIO & FINIZIO, P.A., a Florida professional association, PAUL G. FINIZIO and ANYA E. MACIAS, Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         Consolidated appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Carol Lisa Phillips, Judge; L.T. Case No. 09005292 (09).

          Georgeta Miller, Weston, pro se.

          Scott A. Cole and Lissette Gonzalez of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A., Miami, for appellees.

          Taylor, J.

         In this legal malpractice action arising out of divorce litigation, the plaintiff, Georgeta Miller, appeals an amended final judgment on the pleadings entered in favor of the defendants, Finizio & Finizio, P.A., Paul Finizio, and Anya Macias. We reverse.

         Background and Underlying Dissolution Proceeding

         This legal malpractice action has its genesis in a marital dissolution proceeding between the plaintiff and her former husband. The defendants, Finizio & Finizio, P.A., Paul Finizio, and Anya Macias, represented the plaintiff in the dissolution proceeding.

         In November 2006, the plaintiff entered into a marital settlement agreement with her husband, which largely dealt with custody and child support issues with respect to the parties' two minor children.

         At the final hearing in the dissolution action, the parties announced that they had reached an agreement on all the issues in the case. The parties agreed that: (1) the plaintiff would pay $60, 000 to the trust account of the husband's lawyer in exchange for a quitclaim deed to the marital home; (2) both parties would waive alimony; and (3) everything else would be covered by the marital settlement agreement. The plaintiff stated under oath that she agreed to be bound by the marital settlement agreement and by the terms that her lawyer announced on the record.

         In January 2007, the family court entered a final judgment of dissolution of marriage, incorporating the terms of the written marital settlement agreement as well as the terms of the agreement announced in open court.

         The Legal Malpractice Action

         In January 2009, the plaintiff, through counsel, filed a legal malpractice action against the defendants stemming from their representation of her in the dissolution action. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the standard of care in numerous ways, including, among other things: (1) failing to obtain the required financial disclosures from the husband; and (2) informing the plaintiff that she could just sign the marital settlement agreement, and that the plaintiff and her counsel would pursue the financial disclosures and equitable distribution at a later date. The plaintiff further alleged that as a result of the defendants' violations of the standard of care, she was damaged in that she ...


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