(2) A legal malpractice action that is not commenced within the time prescribed by subsection (1) is barred.
The Court also quoted MCL 600.5805(6), which states “the period of limitations is 2 years for an action charging malpractice,” and cited well-established case law demonstrating the applicable statute of limitations for legal-malpractice claims is two years. Id. at *2, citing Sam v Balardo, 411 Mich 405, 417; 308 NW2d 142 (1981); Kloian v Schwartz, 272 Mich App 232, 237; 725 NW2d 671 (2006).
The Court found the defendant’s contention that the statute of limitations was six years confused the statute of limitation with the statute of repose. Explaining the difference between the two, the Court stated:
While statutes of repose and statutes of limitation both create temporal barriers to a claim's viability, each functions differently. A statute of repose prevents a cause of action from ever accruing when the injury is sustained after the designated statutory period has elapsed. A statute of limitation, however, prescribes the time limits in which a party may bring an action that has already accrued. Unlike a statute of limitation, then, a statute of repose may bar a claim before an injury or damage occurs. [Id., quoting Frank v Linkner, 310 Mich App 169, 179; 871 NW2d 363 (2015), lv gtd, 499 Mich 859; 873 NW2d 591 (2016).]
Having dismissed the defendant’s lega- malpractice claim, the Court then dismissed the defendant’s breach-of-contract and negligent-infliction-of-emotional-distress claims for the same reason. The Court reasoned that the two claims were “indistinguishable” from the legal- malpractice claim, and were “based entirely on plaintiff’s alleged failure to adequately represent [defendant]”—consequently, the claims were legal-malpractice claims even though they were titled differently.
In making its decision, the Court cited the specific language in the defendant’s counterclaims. The defendant’s breach-of-contract claim alleged that “plaintiff breached the parties’ contract by failing ‘to provide ethical and competent legal representation,’” while the negligent-infliction-of- emotional-distress claim alleged that the plaintiff failed “to fulfill its ‘general obligation and duty to Defendant with respect to representation and conduct of the relationship’ by failing to act ‘with the appropriate care and diligence required.’” Id. at *3. The legal-malpractice claim was all too similar, alleging that the “plaintiff committed legal malpractice by failing to fulfill its ‘professional obligation and duty to Defendant with respect to representation’ by failing to act ‘with the degree of professionalism, diligence, and care required.’” The Court stated that “‘[t]he type of interest harmed, rather than the label given the claim, determines what limitations period controls,’” and held the two-year statute of limitations applied to the claims. Id., quoting Seebacher v Fitzgerald, Hodgman, Cawthorne & King, PC, 181 Mich App 642, 646; 449 NW2d 673 (1989).