Is It Legal Malpractice Not to Produce Bills for Attorney Work?
In a most ironic turnabout. a law firm is sued for not producing bills. Often enough, it is claimed that legal malpractice cases start up when a law firm actually bills the client. Not here, in TufAmerica, Inc. v Warshavsky 2013 NY Slip Op 32690(U) October 24, 2013 Sup Ct, New York County Docket Number: 157795/12 Judge: Anil C. Singh. Plaintiff loses here on the statute of limitations. Here is the back story:
"Plaintiff TufAmerica, Inc. ("TufAmerica") retained defendant Oren Warshavsky ("Warshavsky"), a New York attorney, to provide legal services beginning in August 1999 in connection with a lawsuit brought by Wardell Quezergue and Joseph Johnson against TufAmerica in federal district court in
New Orleans, Louisiana. Warshavsky also represented TufAmerica in connection with a second suit brought against TufAmerica by the same two plaintiffs in 2002, this one in state court in Louisiana. Warshavsky was admitted pro hac vice in connection with both lawsuits, and entered an appearance as counsel for TufAmerica in both lawsuits. In the federal court suit, the court in a December 11, 2000, decision awarded summary judgment to TufAmerica against another defendant, Joe Jones, for copyright infringement, and awarded TufAmerica its attorneys' fees as to the claims against Joe Jones only."
When the time came, and TufAmerica had to produce bills so that they could be reimbursed, the bills could not be found.
"On May 31, 2006, plaintiff's local counsel in Louisiana, Dino Gankendorff, sent the following e-mail to Warshavsky:
I am still tring [sic.] to get in touch with you on the motion to compel.
I have called you everyday for almost two weeks now and have not
heard back. We have a hearing on this Friday, June 2, and face a
serious problem. In reviewing the file, we have already agreed to
produce certain documents, see your letter dated June 17, 2005.
Donald Hyatt reports that he never received these docs. nor has our
office. Frankly, I don't see how I can go to court on Friday and
objection [sic.] to this production when we have already agreed to
produce these documents. In short, I need you to overnight me these
documents referenced in your letter dated June 17, 2006 today so we
can produce them at the hearing on Friday or I feel certain that the
Judge will cast us with attorney's fees and sanctions. Please let me
hear from you immediately. Thanks dino
(Pergament Affirmation, exhibit A).
"Later that day, Warshavsky replied:
I do not have any documents, and if Tuff City does not have the bills
then there is not much that can be done - sometimes there are no
documents found, and we can only give circumstantial evidence.
Essentially, they want back up data - sorry, it is gone. And the
company that generated the bills, Cobrin & Gittes, ceased operation
in April 2002."