A Lot of Money is Missing...Is it Legal Malpractice?
"The defendants Alisa Schiff and Schiff & Skurnik, PLLC (hereinafter together the Schiff defendants), who served as the plaintiff's attorney with respect to the drafting, and the execution by the plaintiff, of a contract to sell her home (hereinafter the contract of sale), and the defendant Michael Gross, who served as the plaintiff's attorney for the related real estate closing, failed to meet this burden. Contrary to the Supreme Court's conclusion, the Schiff defendants and Gross failed to demonstrate, prima facie, that the plaintiff did not sustain any actual or ascertainable [*3]damages as a result of their alleged negligence. The contract of sale provided that the purchase price of the plaintiff's home was $615,000, with the plaintiff to credit the purchaser with the sum of $155,000 at the closing. Approximately $241,000 of the proceeds of the sale went to satisfy the plaintiff's mortgage, and the plaintiff received approximately $216,000. The Schiff defendants and Gross failed to eliminate triable issues of fact as to the propriety of the $155,000 credit to the purchaser and other disbursements made of the proceeds, and thus, as to whether the plaintiff should have obtained more money for the sale of her home than she received. " So, in Gelobter v Fox ;2011 NY Slip Op 09268; Appellate Division, Second Department we see that both sets of defendants failed to clear themselves of potential liability.
"The Schiff defendants failed to meet their prima facie burden on the issue of proximate cause, as they merely established, in this respect, that they did not participate in the real estate closing. However, this fact did not negate any negligence on their part in the drafting of the contract of sale, which the plaintiff signed under Schiff's representation, and in connection with alleged alterations made to the purchase price on the contract prior to the real estate closing. In other words, as the contract of sale had already been signed and altered before the real estate closing, contrary to the Schiff defendants' contention, they did not establish as a matter of law that Gross had "a sufficient opportunity to protect the plaintiffs' rights" (Katz v Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C., 48 AD3d 640, 641), such that Schiff's conduct could not have proximately caused the plaintiff's damages. "