Messner v. Boon, 466 S.W.3d 191 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2015, pet. granted, judgm't vacated w.r.m.).




Administratrix filed suit against Attorney alleging malpractice for representation of (1) Decedent while Decedent was alive and (2) Executrix after Decedent died.  The trial court granted a take-nothing judgment against Administratrix and she appealed.  The appellate court held that Administratrix had standing to pursue claims for malpractice which Decedent had while alive but lacked standing with regard to Attorney’s representation of Executrix.


With regard to the claim that Attorney was negligent in the representation of Decedent, the court followed the clear line of authority of Supreme Court of Texas cases that hold that although Attorney owes no duties to non-client beneficiaries, Attorney owed duties to Decedent and it is those duties which Administratrix claims were breached.  In other words, Administratrix is merely bringing the action Decedent could have brought had he not died.


However, with regard to Attorney’s duties to Executrix, those duties are owed only to Executrix.  Thus, a successor personal representative such as Administratrix lacks standing to bring those claims.  The court rejected Administratrix’s claim that she stepped into Executrix’s shoes when she took office and thus could bring whatever claims Executrix could have brought if she had remained in office.  The court explained that Decedent could not have brought suit against Attorney for this alleged malpractice and thus neither can Administratrix.  Of course, Executrix or her estate has standing to bring a malpractice claim against Attorney.


Moral:  A successor personal representative lacks standing to sue an attorney who provided advice to a previous personal representative for malpractice.