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Getch v. Jeffrey T. Orndorff Co. L.P.A.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District

September 16, 2013

CHERYL R. GETCH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JEFFREY T. ORNDORFF CO., L.P.A., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Civil Appeal from the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 11M000368.

Brian D. Spitz and Fred M. Bean, For Plaintiff-Appellant.

Timothy D. Johnson, Cavitch, Familo & Durkin Co, L.P.A., For Defendants-Appellees.

OPINION

CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.

(¶1} Appellant, Cheryl R. Getch, appeals the summary judgment of the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas in favor of appellees, Jeffrey T. Orndorff Co., L.P.A., et al. (collectively referred to as "Orndorff), on appellant's claim for legal malpractice against Orndorff. At issue is whether the cognizable events occurred before Getch discharged Orndorff and whether her malpractice claim is time-barred. Because we hold the trial court did not err in entering summary judgment, we affirm.

(¶2} The statement of facts that follows is based on the parties' depositions and evidentiary materials submitted on summary judgment. Getch testified in her deposition that, following the death of her husband, Donald Getch, in July 2009, she retained Orndorff, a local attorney, to represent her as executrix in the administration of her deceased husband's estate.

(¶3} Getch first met Orndorff in his office in Chardon, Ohio on August 20, 2009. During this meeting, Orndorff asked Getch to provide him with all documents in her possession regarding the assets and liabilities of her late husband. She said that in response to this request, she gathered a large amount of records, put them in a box, and gave them to Orndorff.

(¶4} Getch testified that after a few months, her family members became worried about Orndorff s performance and questioned his competence. They told her that she should "get rid of Orndorff. However, she did not immediately follow their advice. She testified her brother-in-law, Sherwood Wilson, called Orndorff "on her behalf and told him that Getch no longer required his services and that she was terminating their relationship.

(¶5} Further, Getch testified as follows:

(¶6} Q. When you * * * fired Mr. Orndorff, why did you do that?

(¶7} A. I was panicking. Things weren't getting done.

(¶8} Q. Had you expressed that to Mr. Orndorff before then?

(¶9} A. I tried.

(¶10} Q. What do you mean by that, you tried? Did you have conversations with him?

(¶11} A. I called many occasions, but I wouldn't get phone calls back.

(¶12} * * *

(¶13} Q. And do you know that he is not qualified as * * * someone knowledgeable in probate matters?

(¶14} * * *

(¶15} A. I do now.

(¶16} * * *

(¶17} Q. How do you know that?

(¶18} * * *

(¶19} A. Truth? Well, when you got a judge asking you to get your will probated and documents need signed and you can't get these things because you can't get him to get the job done, I had to call the judge because I was panicking. He wanted papers from me I couldn't get. So I called the judge and told them I couldn't get my files because Jeff's secretary said I couldn't get them until next week and I said no, I want them now.

(¶20} Q. When did all that occur?

(¶21} * * *

(¶22} A. About the time I gave him the $2, 000 check.

(¶23} Q. Which is dated January 21st?

(¶24} A. Yeah.

(¶25} Q. 2010?

(¶26} A. Around in that general area I demanded my files and everything back. The judge sent me the papers I needed, I signed them and sent them back to the judge. That's how my husband's will got probated. (Emphasis added.)

(¶27} Getch testified that on January 21, 2010, she wrote a check to Orndorff for $2, 000. She testified she wrote him this check "[b]ecause [she] was letting him go and [she] thought it was the fair thing to do. [She] thought [she] owed him money for whatever he did do for [her]." She testified that on that date, she knew she was "letting him go." She states in her appellate brief that on January 21, 2010, she gave Orndorff the check for $2, 000. She testified that when she gave him this ...


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