A Trip and Fall Case, Now a Legal Malpractice Case

Client trips and falls because of a defect in a parking lot. Client goes to attorney who fails to commence the case within the statute of limitations. Client sues attorney who comes up with very inventive defenses. What happens to the case on summary judgment?

inDuque v Perez 2012 NY Slip Op 03593, Appellate Division, Second Department plaintiff wins, so far. "The plaintiff Jairo Duque (hereinafter Duque) allegedly slipped and fell in a hole in a parking lot at a medical facility in Middletown. He and his wife allegedly retained the defendant attorneys to commence a personal injury action on his behalf (hereinafter the underlying action). After the statute of limitations had expired, the medical facility filed an answer containing an affirmative defense that it did not own the property. The defendant Allan Kuslansky presented the plaintiffs with a general release, which they executed, and informed them that Duque had "a better medical malpractice case" against the doctor who, after the accident, performed surgery on Duque's knee. The underlying action was discontinued. "

"Here, Perez and Lewis failed to meet their prima facie burden of establishing their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, as the evidence they submitted failed to eliminate a triable issue of fact as to whether there was an attorney-client relationship between them and the plaintiffs (see Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Ctr., 64 NY2d 851, 853; Nelson v Roth 69 AD3d 912, 913). Moreover, contrary to their contention, Perez and Lewis failed to establish, prima facie, that the legal malpractice cause of action was time-barred (see 730 J & J, LLC v Polizzotto & Polizzotto, Esqs., 69 AD3d 704, 705). Further, all of the defendants failed to meet their prima facie burden of establishing their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, since they failed to submit evidence supporting their contention that their alleged malpractice did not cause the plaintiffs to sustain any losses because the plaintiffs would not have been able to establish that the premises owner had actual or constructive notice of the alleged defective condition.

Accordingly, since the defendants failed to meet their prima facie burden on their motions for summary judgment, those branches of the defendants' respective motions which were for summary judgment dismissing the cause of action alleging legal malpractice insofar as asserted against each of them were properly denied, regardless of the sufficiency of the plaintiffs' opposition papers (see Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Ctr., 64 NY2d at 853). "
 

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