Fraud or Malpractice?
In this case, the court permits client to plead fraud even though legall malpractice is time barred. Why? Unsophisticated client retains attorney for a first time purchase of a business. Attorney undertakes complicated transaction for $ 3000. As soon as the contract is ready, attorney tells client to sign a wavier, and then seems to have a conflict of interest and starts to represent the landlord and undertakes to evict the client.'
Hernandez v Marquez 2012 NY Slip Op 31112(U) Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 103531/11 Judge: Joan A. Madden:
"In October 2007, Hernandez retained Marquez, an attorney, who represented to her that he was competent to handle all aspects of the purchase of a restaurant and the acquisition of a liquor license. (Amended Complaint, 7 3). Hernandez “made it very clear to [Marquez] that she had never purchased a business before this particular purchase transaction, that she had no experience purchasing a business and that she had to rely on him completely for all aspects of the purchase of the restaurant with a liquor license.” (u 7 4). Marquez “promised that he would perform in the manner required by [Hernandez] and that she had nothing to worry about [if] she contracted with him” (a 7 5). In consideration for these promises to properly handle the purchase of the restaurant and the acquisition of the liquor license, Hernandez paid Marquez $3,000.
In reliance of Marquez’s advice, including representations that the liquor license could be transferred from the seller, so long as Hernandez was not convicted of any crimes, Hernandez contracted with the seller to purchase the business. (Ig 7 8). The purchase was accomplished through a Stock Transfer Agreement entered into on October 2,2007, a copy of which is annexed to the proposed amended complaint. The Agreement made the obtaining of a liquor license for the Restaurant a condition of the purchase. As soon as she told Marquez that she was not convicted of any crimes, Marquez had her sign a waiver, which states in pertinent part: Parties represent and state that notwithstanding anything to the contrary in documents for the above purchase, that [Hernandez Is irrevocably purchasing said store and waives condition of approval by the State of New York Liquor Authority and Beverage Control Board, and further states that he/she is qualified
for an off-premises beer license,After signing the waiver, Hernandez paid the seller $30,000 as a down payment for the business, at which time Marquez advised Hernandez to pay for the seller’s landlord $10,000 rent arrears due and owing from the seller, and instructed Hernandez to execute a new lease with the landlord, which required $5,250 as a security deposit and as monthly rent ( 7 19). There may have been a conflict of interest that caused Marquez to have Hernandez sign the waiver, since Marquez now represents the landlord in an action to evict Hernandez from her apartment 18). If Marquez had told Hernandez the truth about the waiver, Hernandez would not have gone through with the purchase of the restaurant until she had secured a liquor license. 7 20).
However, “[s]olely due to assurances, representations, advice and direction of the Marquez,
Hernandez was caused ... to close the transaction with no approval from the State Liquor
Due to Marquez’s misrepresentations and omissions, “includ[ing] his directing Hernandez to execute a lease and pay rent of $5,250 a month, which she paid for over a year, for a premises which she believed that she would have a restaurant and liquor license,” Hernandez suffered damages (Id, 7 27). As a result of her reliance on Marquez’s representations, Hernandez alleges that she had become indebted to the seller for $91,350,000.In addition, contrary to Marquez’s representations, the liquor license for the restaurant could not be secured.