Law Firm Strikes Out Twice in One Case

It seems that Lacher & Lovell-Taylor PC were attorneys working for Lloyd's of London.  They ran into disputes with the carrier, and in this New York county case, not only had to pay back monies, but were also found not to be covered for a malpractice case.  Here the AD determines that a demand for the return of legal fees paid to a law firm is not "legal malpractice."

Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London Subscribing to Policy No. SYN-1000263 v Lacher & Lovell-Taylor, P.C.   2013 NY Slip Op 08112   Decided on December 5, 2013   Appellate Division, First Department 
"Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Anil C. Singh, J.), entered March 26, 2012, which granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment declaring that it was not obligated to defend or indemnify defendants in the underlying estate proceeding, and on its cause of action for reimbursement of its defense costs, and order, same court and Justice, entered October 9, 2012, which, to the extent appealable, granted plaintiff's motion to modify the order to include summary judgment on its supplemental complaint, and order and judgment (one paper), same court and Justice, entered March 13, 2013, awarding plaintiff the total sum of $166,968.90 in defense costs from defendants, unanimously affirmed, with costs.

A claim for the return of legal fees is not a claim for "damages" in a legal malpractice action, as defined in the professional liability policy issued by plaintiff to defendants (see Shapiro v OneBeacon Ins. Co., 34 AD3d 259, 260 [1st Dept 2006], lv denied 9 NY3d 803 [2007]). In support of each of the causes of action, the complaint alleges only that defendants overbilled their client in the underlying estate proceeding; it does not allege facts tending to show that but for their negligence, they could have achieved a better result for him (see Allstate Ins. Co. v Mugavero, 79 NY2d 153, 162-163 [1992]; Barbara King Family Trust v Voluto Ventures LLC, 46 AD3d 423 [1st Dept 2007]). Moreover, plaintiff reserved its right to seek reimbursement of its defense costs in the event of a finding of no coverage (see American Guar. & Liab. Ins. Co. v CNA Reins. Co., 16 AD3d 154 [1st Dept 2005]). "


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