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Professional Liability

For decades, the attorneys of Wilkes Atkinson & Joyner, LLC, have defended professionals against claims of professional liability. WAJ attorneys regularly defend a wide variety of professionals, including, but not limited to, architects, engineers, professional land surveyors, landscape architects, soil scientists, attorneys, real estate brokers and agents, dentists, and Airframe and Powerplant mechanics, against claims of professional negligence or breach of professional warranties. Our attorneys have broad experience in the retention, cross-examination and direct examination of expert witnesses, as well as experience in motions practice, trial and appellate practice related to professional liability claims.

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Representative Matters

Architect Liability

We obtained summary judgment for our architect client on claims by various federal building project subcontractors that the architect negligently failed to ensure that the project contractor paid the plaintiffs for their work. The trial court agreed with our summary judgment position that the architect owed the plaintiffs no actionable duty with respect to the project payments and dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims.

We have obtained partial summary judgment for multiple architect clients under the Statute of Repose, obtaining findings that all claims except those for gross negligence, are barred against architects after the expiration of the repose period.

We defended an architect in an action filed by a homeowners’ association alleging negligent design and supervision of the construction of a multi-building condominium complex. After extensive document review and analysis, we developed a strong statute of limitations defense and resolved the plaintiff’s claim for less than 3% of its claimed damages.

In arbitration of a design defect claim, we obtained a finding of liability for less than 10% of the cost of the repair completed by the governmental entity claiming damages, despite the fact that our client was the sole Respondent in the arbitration. We also successfully asserted the economic loss doctrine to shield the architect against the general contractor’s delicts.

Dentist Professional Liability

Our firm represented a dentist in a malpractice action asserted by a former patient who claimed that our client negligently failed to prescribe antibiotics after a tooth extraction. We moved for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff lacked the expert medical testimony necessary to maintain her negligence claim, and secured the voluntary dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim.

We obtained dismissal of claims related to alleged negligence in performance of a root canal, based on the Plaintiff’s failure to comply with pre-suit requirements for claims against dentists.

An organization providing dental hygiene services to public school students sued our client, a practicing dentist, and various other parties for alleged defamation, tort and anti-trust violations relating to a school system’s refusal to utilize the plaintiff’s services. We effectively employed discovery to minimize our client’s liability exposure in relation to the co-defendants and to achieve a creative settlement for our client.

Engineer Professional Liability

After a weeklong trial, we obtained a defense jury verdict for an engineering firm sued for negligence and breach of contract, relating to alleged errors in the application process for a zoning special exception permit.  The plaintiff sought $3.5 million in damages, and WAJ attorneys obtained directed verdicts on claims of gross negligence and violations of the S.C. Unfair Trade Practices Act, prior to the case being provided to the jury for determination.

Construction workers who sustained electrical shock injuries during construction of a trunk sewer sued our client, the engineering firm which designed the project, alleging negligence and design deficiencies. A vigorous defense and thorough understanding of the complex legal issues of this case allowed us to negotiate a global settlement of the plaintiffs’ claims.

We obtained a favorable mediated settlement for an engineer who contracted with a county to manage and oversee road construction performed under a global highway initiative. The plaintiff in that case, which was the estate of a woman who was killed in a traffic accident that occurred on a roadway under construction, had asserted negligent design and oversight claims against our client. Ultimately, we obtained full indemnity for our client, with all liabilities paid by the General Contractor.

We achieved a favorable settlement of a catastrophic injury case, based on evaluation of applicable contracts and law for a highway expansion, with our settlement comprising less than 1% of the demanded sum.

Insurance Professional Liability

We obtained dismissal of claims against an insurance broker, based on evidence of proper disclosures in the process of procuring coverage.

After litigating issues related to procurement and placement of a marine hull policy, we obtained a favorable mediated settlement of claims against an insurance broker related to denial of a hull loss claim.  The settlement was facilitated by a pending motion for summary judgment filed by our attorneys.

After litigation of professional negligence and bad faith claims arising from a multi-million dollar default judgment against an insured, we obtained a favorable mediated resolution of claims against a broker for alleged failure to procure proper coverage.  Our settlement was facilitated by a pending motion for summary judgment, based on lack of duty and expiration of the applicable limitations period.


We defended a physician in an action filed by a former partner’s competing medical services business, alleging defamation and tortious interference with contractual relations. Our diligent defense of and discovery efforts in this case obtained summary judgment, later affirmed on appeal.

Our physician client was sued by a business partner for defamation and dissolution of the parties’ medical services business and land holding partnership. Mediation of this contentious matter ultimately led to a structured settlement of the plaintiff’s claims which was advantageous to our client.

Real Estate Appraisers

We represented a real estate appraisal firm against a claim by homeowners that the firm submitted inaccurate inspection reports to their mortgage lender in relation to the construction of their home, which caused the lender to over-disburse construction funds to the homebuilder. Our factual investigation and reasoned assessment of the plaintiffs’ claimed damages achieved an efficient and favorable settlement for our client.

Real Estate Litigation

Our firm represented a real estate agent in a negligence-based action filed by a former client, who claimed that the agent induced her to make unwise property purchase and failed to manage her properties and related bank accounts in a proper manner. With aggressive discovery and the development of a strong contributory negligence position, we were able to secure a timely and reasonable settlement for our client at mediation.

We obtained dismissal of discrimination claims against a leasing agent, based on Plaintiff’s failure to prove she was in a protected class, as well as failure to comply with applicable statutes.

We defended a commercial property owner against a personal injury claim asserted by the employee of a building tenant and her spouse. Through aggressive discovery and the use of a medical expert to contest the causation and damages elements of the plaintiffs’ claims, we were able to obtain a favorable mediated settlement of that case.

We represented a real estate appraisal firm against a claims by homeowners that the firm submitted inaccurate inspection reports to their mortgage lender in relation to the construction of their home, which caused the lender to over-disburse construction funds to the homebuilder. Our factual investigation and reasoned assessment of the plaintiffs’ claimed damages achieved an efficient and favorable settlement for our client, based on a pending Motion for Summary Judgment.

We obtained summary judgment for a real estate agent on claims that she negligently misrepresented the condition of a lot she listed for sale. We obtained the ruling by proving the truth of her statements, and by demonstrating that the plaintiffs could not have relied on any comments of the realtor, based on the language of the contract for sale.

Administrative Actions

We obtained a finding of no violations in an action for discipline against a residential homebuilder, before the S.C. Residential Homebuilders Commission, based on alleged deficiencies in construction.

We defended a licensed massage therapist before the S.C. Board of Massage Therapists, related to allegations of improper conduct.  While the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation sought termination of a license, our attorneys were able to limit the sanction to a letter of caution.

We have represented multiple real estate professionals before the South Carolina Real Estate Commission related to claims of improper conduct.

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