An Arizona appellate court held that summary judgment was appropriate in a legal malpractice action brought by a medical marijuana company for failure to timely pursue a petition for judicial review where plaintiffs could not prove the petition would have been successful but for defendants’ alleged negligence.
An aspiring medical marijuana company applied to the City of Las Vegas for special use permits to operate cultivation, production, and dispensary facilities. The Las Vegas City Council determined the company failed to submit the requisite background information. One City Council member also found that the company’s principals—namely, a print shop foreman, an insurance agent, and a motel manager—lacked the requisite experience and professionalism. The City Council ultimately denied all three applications on October 28, 2014.
On November 24, 2014, the company and one of its principals (plaintiffs) retained defendants to file a petition for judicial review of the City Council’s decision. The next day, defendants filed a petition with the Clark County District Court. The City, however, moved to dismiss the petition because it was filed one day late. The district court agreed, granted the City’s motion, and dismissed plaintiffs’ petition with prejudice.
In 2016, plaintiffs initiated a legal malpractice action against defendants in the Superior Court of Arizona for Maricopa County for negligently failing to timely file plaintiffs’ petition for review. Defendants stipulated to the elements of duty and breach, and the parties filed competing motions for summary judgment on causation. The superior court found that even if defendants had timely filed plaintiffs’ petition, the Nevada district court judge would have upheld the City Council’s decision to deny the applications as a matter of law because the decision was supported by substantial evidence. The superior court concluded plaintiffs could not prove the element of “but- for” causation and, therefore,