Negligent Drug Testing and Legal Malpractice: Not the Same!

Plaintiff is on probation and gives an oral sample for drug testing.  Kroll labs tests the saliva and finds THC.  An independent urine drug test taken as a safety measure by Plaintiff is negative.  Plaintiff's probation period is extended.  There are no pecuniary losses.  May Plaintiff recover. 

Here, yes.  If it were legal malpractice, no.  Why?  InLandon v Kroll Lab. Specialists, Inc.  2013 NY Slip Op 06597 [22 NY3d 1]  October 10, 2013 Lippman, J. , the Court of Appeals tells us that legal malpractice is different.

"In addition, we reject defendant's argument that plaintiff failed to allege that he has suffered a cognizable harm (see e.g. Martinez v Long Is. Jewish Hillside Med. Ctr., 70 NY2d 697, 699 [1987] ["where there is a breach of a duty owed by defendant to plaintiff, the breach of that duty resulting directly in emotional harm is actionable"]). In this procedural posture, {**22 NY3d at 8}plaintiff's allegations of the loss of freedom occasioned by the extension of his probation and the resulting emotional and psychological harm are sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Defendant places too much weight upon our recent decision in Dombrowski v Bulson (19 NY3d 347 [2012]), characterizing it as holding that loss of freedom damages are not recoverable in negligence actions. In that case, we found that a legal malpractice action did not lie against a criminal defense attorney to recover nonpecuniary damages. The decision was based in part on policy considerations, including the potentially devastating consequences such liability would have on the criminal justice system and, in particular, the possible deterrent effect it would have on the defense bar concerning the representation of indigent defendants (see Dombrowski, 19 NY3d at 352). Similar policy considerations do not weigh in defendant's favor here."

 

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