Is It Enough For A Good Legal Malpractice Case?

The Client comes in and tells you, "They didn't know the case!  They didn't prepare!  They lost the case!"  Is that enough for a good legal malpractice case?  A demonstrated lack of skill and a failure to prepare for litigation might seem proper fodder for a legal malpractice case, it's not always enough.

In Chibcha Rest., Inc. v David A. Kaminsky & Assoc., P.C. 2013 NY Slip Op 00281 Appellate Division, First Department the court held: "Plaintiffs' allegations that defendants made "no useful attempt" to argue against a TRO sought and obtained by the landlord, and that defendants were both unprepared and unskilled in defending them, do not suffice. As the motion court observed, plaintiffs do not allege, for example, that defendants missed any deadlines or otherwise failed to protect or preserve plaintiffs' rights (see Mortenson v Shea, 62 AD3d 414, 414-415 [1st Dept 2009])."

This case demonstrates the bold difference between a failure to file within a deadline, and almost all other shortcomings. Presentation of a certain witness, selection of an expert, questions put in cross-exam. All very important, but none of them a failure to file within a deadline or a failure to preserve a client's rights.

The Court explains further: "Contrary to plaintiffs' assertions, the record supports the motion court's conclusion that plaintiffs' damages, sustained from the closing of the subject premises after issuance of the TRO, were not caused by defendants' conduct, but rather by plaintiffs' failure to obtain the necessary insurance before the landlord brought its motion for a temporary restraining order. Plaintiffs concede that the insurance coverage required by the lease initially was not in place, and that the TRO against them was lifted only after the requisite insurance was obtained. As the premises were closed due to the lack of insurance, it cannot be said that plaintiffs would not have incurred any damages, but for defendants' purported negligence (Rudolf v Shayne, Dachs, Stanisci, Corker & Sauer, 8 NY3d 438, 442 [2007])."
 

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