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159107, 159124 - Kathleen Gaydos, PR of Estate of Voutsaras v Bender

Kathleen M. Gaydos, Personal Representative of the Estate of Diana Lykos Voutsaras,

 

Shane Hilyard

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

and

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

Spiro Voutsaras,

(Ingham – Stewart, M.)

 

 

Plaintiff,

 

v

 

 

Gary L. Bender, Richard A. Cascarilla, Lindsay Nicole Dangl, Vincent P. Spagnuolo, and Murphy & Spagnuolo PC,

 

 

 

Defendants,

 

and

 

 

Kenneth M. Mogill, and Mogill, Posner & Cohen,

 

Kathleen Klaus

 

Defendants-Appellants,

 

and

 

 

Kern G. Slucter and Gannon Group, PC,

 

John Brennan

 

Defendants-Appellees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

Diana Lykos Voutsaras and her husband, Spiro Voutsaras, were defendants in a foreclosure action brought by Gallagher Investments, the holder of the note on their mortgage. They filed a counterclaim and a third-party claim against Gallagher and others, alleging professional malpractice. The Voutsarases’ attorney hired another attorney as well as real estate experts to provide litigation support services and to give expert testimony at trial. Ultimately, their attorney informed them that the litigation strategy was doomed to fail, and the trial court granted summary disposition against the Voutsarases in the foreclosure action. After Diana died in January 2015, her estate filed this malpractice action against her attorneys and the attorney and real estate experts retained in the underlying foreclosure action. Plaintiff-estate alleged that the retained experts failed to provide professionally competent opinions. The trial court held that defendants were entitled to witness immunity, and granted summary disposition in their favor. Plaintiff-estate appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded in a published opinion, holding that “licensed professionals owe the same duty to the party for whom they testify as they would to any client and that witness immunity is not a defense against professional malpractice.” The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on defendants’ application for leave to appeal to address whether the privilege of witness immunity extends to suits against retained experts.  See Maiden v Rozwood, 461 Mich 109 (1999). ​