In a recent successful case, plaintiff was a large real estate management company. Plaintiff was involved in a 500 million dollar financing involving 3 NYC downtown buildings. The general counsel asked one of the multiple large firms whether “mortgage spreading” could be used to avoid payment of new mortgage tax. When told “no”, the financing continued to closing. At closing it was determined that $1.7 million in mortgage tax could have been legally avoided, contrary to the advice. Prior to jury selection this case settled for $ 900,000.
Attorney malpractice arises in matrimonial settings too. In another recent successful case, Plaintiff -wife had a history of suicide attempts, which were one of the bases of husband’s claim of cruel and inhuman treatment. Plaintiff had a history of psychiatric hospitalizations. Days after her release, her attorney and she attended a court hearing on custody, which turned into a settlement of the entire divorce. At the time, she was still on psychotropic medication, and only days out of the in-patient hospitalization. This attorney malpractice matter was settled for $350,000.
Attorney malpractice case arise in unexpected circumstances and may be more vital and valuable than expected. Analysis of the four elements of attorney malpractice is required to determine whether a case exists, and may successfully be prosecuted. As always, the elements are: professional relationship, deviation, proximate cause [including the “but for” element,] and damages.