Keeping a Personal Injury and a Legal Malpractice Case Apart

Personal injury and legal malpractice cases have many strong bonds.  Because a sizable portion of the litigation world is devoted to personal injuries (on both the plaintiff's and defendant's side), one correctly expects significant legal malpractice litigation after-wards.  How the legal malpractice case proceeds along with or after the PI case is a not well understood procedure.  In Simoni v Costigan 2012 NY Slip Op 07882  Decided on November 20, 2012   Appellate Division, First Department and Simoni v Napoli   2012 NY Slip Op 08639   Decided on December 13, 2012
Appellate Division, First Department we see two sides of the same issue. 
 

 

 

Costigan:   Although the personal injury actions and the legal malpractice action involve "a common question of law or fact" (CPLR 602[a]), consolidation could engender jury confusion and [*2]prejudice the defendants in the malpractice action (see Addison v New York Presbyt. Hosp./Columbia Univ. Med. Ctr., 52 AD3d 269, [1st Dept 2008]; Brown v Brooklyn Union Gas Co., 137 AD2d 479 [2nd Dept 1988]).

 

Napoli: The motion court providently exercised its discretion in denying defendants' request for a stay of the legal malpractice action pending resolution of plaintiff's personal injury action (see CPLR 2201). The proceedings do not share complete identity of parties, claims and relief sought (see 952 Assoc., LLC v Palmer, 52 AD3d 236 [1st Dept 2008]; Esposit v Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky, P.C., 237 AD2d 246 [2d Dept 1997]).

The motion court also properly permitted plaintiff to amend the complaint (see CPLR 3025[b]). The amended complaint and the documents submitted in support of the cross motion allege facts from which it could reasonably be inferred that defendants' negligence caused plaintiff's loss (see Garnett v Fox, Horan & Camerini, LLP, 82 AD3d 435 [1st Dept 2011]). At this stage of the proceedings, plaintiff does not have to show that he actually sustained damages as a result of defendants' alleged malpractice (id. at 436).