Legal malpractice cases encapsulate the entire world. In this short story, money, fashion, greed and cruelty combine into a fairy tail of tragedy. Oleg Cassini was wildly successful. He died in 2006 with an estate of about $ 60 Million. He had a child from an earlier marriage with actress Gene Tierney, which ended in divorce in 1953. The divorce required him to leave 25% of his estate to his daughter, Christina.
The required 25% bequest was not made, and Christina had to sue. Page Six of the Post tells us that she never collected any money, and died in poverty from ovarian cancer. She succeeded in the suit, but the widow (stepmother?) succeeded in fending off collection.
Even though the money was never paid to Christina, the executor sued attorneys who defended Christina’s suit in Nestor v Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson, LLP 2017 NY Slip Op 06284 Decided on August 23, 2017 Appellate Division, Second Department. “The executor of the decedent’s estate subsequently commenced this legal malpractice action based on the failure of the estate’s attorneys to raise in the Surrogate’s Court proceeding the defense that Christina’s claim was barred by California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 337.5 and 366.3. The defendants Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson, LLP, William M. Pollak, and Philip H. Kalban (hereinafter collectively the Putney defendants) moved, inter alia, pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to [*2]dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against them. The Supreme Court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appeals.”
“Here, the Supreme Court properly determined that California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 337.5 and 366.3 were inapplicable to this action, and that pleading those statutes would not have resulted in a determination that Christina’s claim was barred.
“New York courts will generally enforce a clear and unambiguous choice-of-law clause contained in an agreement so as to give effect to the parties’ intent” (Matter of Frankel v Citicorp Ins. Servs., Inc., 80 AD3d 280, 285). Although this rule applies to “matters of substantive law,” procedural matters “are governed by the law of the forum” (id. at 285 [internal quotation marks omitted]). “Significantly, the law of the forum normally determines for itself whether a given question is one of substance or procedure” (id. at 286 [internal quotation marks omitted]). In determining whether a statute is procedural or substantive, the other state’s classification of its statute “is instructive and should not be ignored,” but “New York is not bound by, and principles of comity do not prompt [a New York court] to adopt” the other state’s classification (Tanges v Heidelberg N. Am., 93 NY2d 48, 54).”
“Accordingly, the Supreme Court correctly determined that the complaint failed to state a cause of action (see CPLR 3211[a]), and thus, properly granted the motion of the Putney defendants to dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against them.”