from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (C.P.C. No.
DeSanto & McNichols, and Debra J. DeSanto, for appellant.
Reminger Co., L.PA., and Melvin J. Davis, for appellees
Pappas Gibson, LLC, et al.
1} The essential facts of this case are not nearly
as difficult to figure out as the claimed theories of legal
harm that plaintiff-appellant Virginia Huffman has sought to
maintain in the trial court and on this appeal from the
summary judgment ruling against her.
2} The record is clear that Ms. Huffman has
experienced credit difficulties, and that here, in the end,
she was excused from liabilities of more than $100, 000.
Because she was delinquent in identifying any expert who
could explain and support her claimed basis for legal
malpractice, and because the trial court further found her
asserted damages to be speculative at best, she lost on the
summary judgment that we now affirm.
3} In a nutshell, drawing from Ms. Huffman's
complaint and her own deposition testimony, she sought to
acquire the home of her late father by taking over his
mortgage obligations on the house. See, e.g.,
Huffman Depo. at 39 (consensus that "it was a good
decision, there was equity in the house"), 43
("Everybody agreed, oh, yeah, this way we won't have
to sell the house. We can close the estate; everybody would
be happy"), 51 (father earlier had taken out "a
loan or a mortgage * * * * I don't understand the bank
stuff), 62 (intent "to assume the mortgage"). Her
lawyers at Pappas Gibson, LLC (collectively,
defendant-appellees "Pappas Gibson") facilitated
the transmission from lender Huntington Bank of a
"SINGLE LOAN GUARANTEE" of her father's debt on
the home mortgage loan. Id. at 58-60 (correspondence
referencing single loan guarantee; "I was made aware
that I had to sign documents to get the house"); see
also Plaintiffs Ex. B (Single Loan Guarantee). "The
property was transferred to Plaintiff Huffman on October 31,
2012, Complaint at ¶ 10, and she signed the single loan
guarantee about three weeks later, on November 19, 2012.
Id. at ¶ 14. She signed the document without
reading it, she says, because her lawyers had told her
"this was what I needed to do to assume the loan."
Huffman Depo. at 62-63.
4} While that original loan to her father had been
in the amount of $140, 477.49 (on a house valued at his death
at around $170, 000), id. at 60, 32, the loan had
been paid down to roughly $124, 000 by the time she signed
the single loan guarantee. Id. at 76, 108-09. Ms.
Huffman moved into the home in early 2013, id. at
72, and lived there until she sold it in October of 2015,
id. at 75. Over that time, she made
approximately $23, 000 in payments on the debt. Id.
at 78. Thus, at the time of her sale, the debt on the home
loan stood at approximately $101, 000. Id. at 80,
5} Ms. Huffman sold the house for around $229, 000.
Id. at 80. She says that after taxes and fees, she
was paid something on the order of $209, 000 for the sale.
Id. at 89. Although she says that she had put some
money into improving the house, she admits that she made a
profit on the sale. Id. at 90-91. That profit proved
to be larger than one might have anticipated because she did
not pay Huntington Bank the $101, 000 balance on its loan
after she learned "there was no lien on the home."
Id. at 84 (Q: "After you sold the house, you
would agree you did not make any attempts to pay off the
$101, 000?" A: "No, because they told me there was
no lien on the home."). The sale proceeds were deposited
into Ms. Huffman's account at Huntington Bank, and she
promptly "went to the bank and took every penny out of
Huntington." Id. at 88. The bank eventually
wrote off the loan. Id. at 95, 129.
6} So then…Ms. Huffman sued the bank. And she
sued her lawyers who had facilitated her uninterrupted
acquisition and possession of the house through the single
loan guarantee device. The bank counterclaimed, seeking
repayment of the $101, 000 it was out; Ms. Huffman and the
bank then agreed to drop all claims and counterclaims between
them, and the trial court entered a Stipulated Entry of
Dismissal with prejudice of those bank-related claims. May
16, 2018 Stipulated Entry; see also July 11, 2018
Decision and Entry Granting Pappas Gibson Mot. for Summ.
Jgmt. at 2. The matter before us, therefore, involves only
Ms. Huffman's legal malpractice claim against Pappas
7} Ms. Huffman seems somewhat ambivalent about
having acquired the home. Although conceding that in
conversations with her family, "they all thought it
would be a great idea for me to buy the house," Huffman
Depo. at 39, and that "I was made aware that I had to
sign documents to get the house," id. at 59,
and that "if I would not have taken the house I would
not have made that profit," id. at 91, when
asked, "[h]ow do you believe you were damaged by taking
the home?", she responds: "this was the home of my
mom and dad. My mom died in the bedroom. I watched my dad
come close to ...