Sometimes a court decision tells a story. Sometimes, not. Richmond Holdings, LLC v David S. Frankel, P.C. 2017 NY Slip Op 04160 Decided on May 24, 2017 Appellate Division, Second Department recites an important (if well understood) standard of legal malpractice, but leaves the reader clueless. “To sustain a cause of action alleging legal malpractice, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant attorney failed to exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession, and that the attorney’s breach of this duty proximately caused the plaintiff to sustain actual and ascertainable damages (see Nomura Asset Capital Corp. v Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, 26 NY3d 40, 49-50; Jorge v Hector Atilio Marichal, P.C., 140 AD3d 1020). Proximate cause in the context of legal malpractice means that the plaintiff would have succeeded on the merits of the underlying action or that the plaintiff would not have sustained actual and ascertainable damages but for the attorney’s negligence (see Nomura Asset Capital Corp. v Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, 26 NY3d at 50; Jorge v Hector Atilio Marichal, P.C., 140 AD3d 1020).
Here, in support of their motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, the defendants established their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, as the evidence they submitted in support of the motion demonstrated that they did not breach their duty of care to the plaintiffs and, in any event, any alleged breach was not a proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ damages. In opposition, the plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether any alleged negligence by the defendants proximately caused the plaintiffs to sustain actual and ascertainable damages.”