Continuous representation tolls the running of the statute of limitations, and requires the dual mutual understanding that more work is required to be undertaken after the act of malpractice, and that there continues to be a relationship of trust and confidence between attorney and client.
Everyone agrees on those two principles, but the application can be strict or lenient. Here is a lenient application in Stein Indus., Inc. v Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP
2017 NY Slip Op 02688 Decided on April 5, 2017 Appellate Division, Second Department.
“In March 2010, the plaintiff Andrew Stein retained the defendant law firm to represent him in connection with the purchase of his brother’s interest in several companies, including the plaintiff Stein Industries, Inc. (hereinafter Stein Industries). The closing of the transaction occurred in April 2010. On March 27, 2015, the plaintiffs commenced this action against the defendant, inter alia, to recover damages for legal malpractice, alleging that the employees of Stein Industries were members of a union and that the defendant failed to discover that, upon the sale of the business, an “Unfunded Vested Pension Liability” became due and owing to the union, which caused the plaintiffs to be damaged in the sum of $500,000. In the order appealed from, the Supreme Court, inter alia, granted that branch of the defendant’s motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(5) to dismiss, as time-barred, the first cause of action, which was to recover damages for professional negligence, and the second cause of action, which was to recover damages for legal malpractice.”
“Here, the defendant satisfied its initial burden by demonstrating, prima facie, that the alleged legal malpractice occurred more than three years before this action was commenced in March 2015 (see Kennedy v H. Bruce Fischer, Esq., P.C., 78 AD3d 1016, 1017). In opposition, however, the plaintiffs raised a question of fact as to whether the applicable statute of limitations was tolled by the continuous representation doctrine. The plaintiffs submitted Andrew Stein’s affidavit, in which he averred that he met with members of the defendant on July 26, 2012, to determine how to rectify the pension liability issue. Andrew indicated that he was not satisfied with their recommendations concerning how to rectify the issue and directed them to formulate another idea. Andrew’s affidavit was sufficient to raise a question of fact as to whether the defendant engaged in a course of continuous representation intended to rectify or mitigate the initial act of alleged malpractice (see Melnick v Farrell, 128 AD3d 1371, 1372; DeStaso v Condon Resnick, LLP, 90 AD3d 809, 812-813; Gravel v Cicola, 297 AD2d 620, 621).
Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have denied that branch of the defendant’s motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(5) to dismiss the first and second causes of action.”