Negotiation Is Not Necessarily Deceit
Judiciary Law 487 is a deceit statute. It reads: " § 487. Misconduct by attorneys. An attorney or counselor who:
1. Is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or
collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party; or,
2. Wilfully delays his client's suit with a view to his own gain; or,
wilfully receives any money or allowance for or on account of any money
which he has not laid out, or becomes answerable for,
Is guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment
prescribed therefor by the penal law, he forfeits to the party injured
treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.
Can overzealous and intimidating behavior constitute a violation of Judiciary Law 487 when it happens during settlement discussions? Not in Wailes v Tel Networks USA, LLC 2014 NY Slip Op 02861 Decided on April 24, 2014 Appellate Division, First Department.
"The allegations of Snyder's conduct in his representation of defendant Tel Networks USA, LLC during settlement discussions with plaintiff, which plaintiff characterizes as "overzealous and intimidating," do not state a cause of action under Judiciary Law § 487. The complaint alleges neither an intent to deceive nor "a chronic and extreme pattern of legal delinquency" that caused plaintiff a loss (Kaminsky v Herrick, Feinstein LLP, 59 AD3d 1, 13 [1st Dept 2008] [internal quotation marks omitted], lv denied 12 NY3d 715 ; Nason v Fisher, 36 AD3d 486, 487 [1st Dept 2007]). Moreover, the only allegations of wrongdoing refer to a settlement discussion had after Tel Networks commenced a legal proceeding, and that communication is absolutely privileged (see Wiener v Weintraub, 22 NY2d 330 ; Mosesson v Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm, 257 AD2d 381, 382 [1st Dept 1999], lv denied 93 NY2d 808 )."