Plaintiff blames the attorney and the attorney blames the client. Someone was at fault for not appearing in court for the trial of this case. A motion to vacate fails. Was it because the motion was badly written, or because plaintiff-client had no excuse for the default?
Di Giacomo v Langella 2014 NY Slip Op 05150 Decided on July 9, 2014 Appellate Division, Second Department says that it was client’s fault, hence no legal malpractice.
"Here, the alleged malpractice relates to the sufficiency of the order to show cause and supporting papers prepared by the Langella defendants and submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs in the personal injury action, pursuant to which they moved to vacate their default in the personal injury action. A motion to vacate a default by a plaintiff in appearing for trial requires the demonstration of a reasonable excuse and an affidavit setting forth the merits of the cause of action (see CPLR 5015; Tuthill Fin., L.P. v Ujueta, 102 AD3d 765; G.D. Van Wagenen Fin. Servs., Inc. v Sichel, 43 AD3d 1104; Tyberg v Neustein, 21 AD3d 896; Kumar v Yonkers Contr. Co., Inc., 14 AD3d 493, 494; Hargett v Health & Hosps. Corp. of City of N.Y., 88 AD2d 633). An attorney’s conduct and performance in connection with a motion to vacate a default may constitute legal malpractice (see Reznick v Zurich N. Am. Specialties, 45 AD3d 750; DeGregorio v Bender, 4 AD3d 384).
The Langella defendants established, prima facie, that the plaintiffs had no reasonable excuse for their default in appearing for jury selection in the personal injury action, thus establishing that the alleged inadequecy of the motion papers that they prepared on the plaintiffs’ behalf was not the proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ damages (see DeGregorio v Bender, 4 AD3d 384). In opposition, the plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether they had a reasonable excuse for their default that could have been communicated to the Langella defendants for inclusion in the papers submitted in connection with the motion to vacate the plaintiffs’ default (see Kotzian v McCarthy, 36 AD3d 863; DeGregorio v Bender, 4 AD3d 384).
Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly granted that branch of the Langella defendant’s motion which was for summary judgment dismissing the complaint."