Appeal from Shelby County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 12CV000179
Benjamin D. Eberly for Appellant.
Paul B. Roderer, Jr. for Appellees, Roberta S. Roberts, Scott A. Kelly, Roberts, Kelly & Bucio, LLP and ESB Properties.
David C. Greer for Appellee, Christopher R. Bucio.
(¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, Linda Heuker, appeals the Shelby County Court of Common Pleas' judgment granting summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees, Roberts, Kelly, & Bucio, LLP, Christopher R. Bucio, Roberta S. Roberts, Scott A. Kelly, and ESB Properties (collectively "defendants"), on her claims stemming from Attorney Bucio's legal representation of her during a felony criminal proceeding. Since Heuker's malpractice claims are time-barred, we affirm.
(¶2} On August 18, 2010, Heuker was arrested and charged with cultivation of marijuana in violation of R.C. 2925.04, a second-degree felony, and endangering children in violation of R.C. 2919.22(B)(6), a third-degree felony, following the execution of a search warrant at her home. (Doc. No. 31, Pg. 61); (Heuker Depo. at 24-25, 78). Heuker's children sought an attorney to represent her, but since Heuker did not have any money, they located an attorney who would use land she owned as collateral for the payment of her attorney fees. (Heuker Depo. at 31).
(¶3} On August 30, 2010, Heuker executed a "Formal Fee Agreement FLAT FEE" with Attorney Bucio of the Roberts, Kelley & Bucio law firm. (Doc. No. 31, Pg. 6). On the front page of the fee agreement Bucio handwrote the following notation:
Client agrees to deed land in Minster, 22.1 acres, to ESB Properties in exchange for full payment of legal services and bail bond payment. The deed of land to ESB Properties for legal services and third party expenses is considered paid when received.
(Id.); (Bucio Depo. at 17-19). That same day Heuker executed a document, which provided the following:
I Linda Heuker on Aug. 30, 2010 terminate the power of Attorney of Thomas Wing regarding the land Deeded to me for 22.2 acres. I hereby request my Deed to the aforementioned property be deeded to ESB Properties for payment of legal services.
(Doc. No. 31, Pg. 12). Heuker also executed that same day a General Warranty Deed transferring ownership of the property to the law firm. (Doc. No. 1, Ex. 1); (Doc. Nos. 31, 39, D's Ex. B); (P's Ex. C).
(¶4} On September 1, 2010, with the assistance of Attorney Bucio, Heuker entered a plea of guilty to one count of child endangering, and the State agreed to dismiss the cultivation of marijuana charge and file no additional charges stemming from the search warrant in exchange for Heuker's guilty plea and her agreement to testify against her boyfriend and codefendant. (Doc. No. 31, Pg. 45-46); (Doc. No. 21, D's Ex. D).
(¶5} On September 29, 2010, the law firm transferred the property to ESB Properties. (Doc. No. 1, Ex. 3).
(¶6} On November 1, 2010, ESB Properties transferred the property to Ted Riethman-who had leased the land from Heuker for several years prior to her criminal case-for $135, 000.00. (Id., Exs. 4-5); (P's Ex. C); (Heuker Depo. at 20-21, 98-99).
(¶7} On November 15, 2010, Heuker was sentenced to three years of community control. (Heuker Depo. at 34, 45).
(¶8} In the weeks following her sentencing and during 2011, Heuker repeatedly contacted the law firm seeking a refund of any monies from the sale of the property above and beyond her ...