No Contribution and No Indemnification in this Legal Malpractice Case
A real estate development gone wrong. It's a common litigation situation, and attorneys are often in for the legal malpractice aspect of the case. Here, in YDRA,LLC v Mitchell 2014 NY Slip Op 50505(U) Decided on April 3, 2014 Supreme Court, Queens County Siegal, J.
Supreme Court, Queens County untwists the skein of relationships and claims.
"On or about September 2, 2012, Plaintiff commenced the within action asserting claims of legal malpractice, architectural malpractice, fraudulent inducement, contract recision and negligence.
Papa was retained by Paul Sklar ("Sklar") by written agreements dated March 15, 2006 and August 9, 2006, to provide a zoning analysis of the subject real property to get Department of Building approval for the construction of a new building on an adjacent lot while the existing building remained. Papa completed his services but Whitestone 8888 Corp opted not to construct the new building. Papa contends that its services were completed at this point.
Plaintiff took title to the property from Whitestone in January of 2009, retaining defendant Mitchell, & Incantalupo ("Mitchell") and Wax Ferraro Architect, PC ("Ferraro") to assist with the purchase.
Plaintiff ultimately brought the within action for breach of contract and negligence as a result of Plaintiff's inability to secure approval for new construction. On or about November 23, 2011, Plaintiff executed a Stipulation of Discontinuance in favor of Christopher V. Papa. However, prior to the discontinuance defendant Mitchell and Ferraro asserted cross-claims against Papa for contribution and indemnification. "
"Initially, Papa contends that Mitchell and Ferraro may not maintain an action for contribution because the Plaintiff seeks to recover only economic losses. Pursuant to CPLR 1401, "two or more persons who are subject to liability for damages for the same personal injury, injury to property or wrongful death, may claim contribution among them whether or not an action has been brought or a judgment has been rendered against the person from whom contribution is sought." Contribution is unavailable for claims seeking recovery for purely economic loss resulting from the breach of contractual obligations. (Capstone Enterprises of Port Chester, Inc. v. Board of Educ. Irvington Union Free Capstone Enterprises of Port Chester, Inc. v. Board of Educ. Irvington Union Free [*3]School Dist., 106 AD3d 856 [2nd Dept 2013] citing Clark-Fitzpatrick, Inc. v. Long Island R. Co., 70 NY2d 382 ; Galvin Brothers, Inc. v. Town of Babylon, 91 AD3d 715 [2nd Dept 2012].) In the within action, Plaintiff is seeking the purely economic relief of recovery of the purchase price of the Property. Accordingly, a claim for contribution from Papa must be dismissed. "
"A right to indemnification can only arise where there is a written contract providing for indemnification or whether indemnification is implied under common law. (Facilities Dev. Corp. v Miletta, 180 AD2d 97 [3rd Dept 1992]; Rosado v Proctor & Schwartz, 66 NY2d 21  citing Prosser and Keeton, Torts § 51, at 341 [5th ed].) It is undisputed that there is no contractual relationship between Mitchell or Ferraro. Furthermore, Mitchell and Ferraro's liability is based upon the their alleged breach of obligations owed to the Plaintiff, rather than upon vicarious liability attributed solely to the fault of Papa, therefore Mitchell and Ferraro do not have a legally viable claim for implied indemnification against Papa. (Mount Vernon Fire Ins. Co. v Mott, 179 AD2d 626 [2nd Dept 1992]; Dormitory Auth. of State of NY v Caudill Rowlett Scott, 160 AD2d 179 [2nd Dept 1990].) Accordingly, as Mitchell and Ferraro have no contractual relationship with Papa and each of the defendants were retained separately from Papa, there can be no claim for indemnification as against Papa."