The Volcano and Legal Malpractice

Allentown, PA is the epicenter of this legal malpractice case.  A group of investors wanted to start a nightclub/bar, and started to explore the Pennsylvania countryside in order to locate the Volcano, where they would set up bar.

Things did not go well.  Allentown was just not ready for the Volcano.  It was too loud, and its permits were not renewed.  The NY attorneys signed up to litigate, even though they were not admitted in PA.  The problem begins. It ends with a choice of law question and the borrowing statute.

Patel v Scheurer  2014 NY Slip Op 30923(U)  April 4, 2014  Supreme Court, New York County  Docket Number: 650185/08  Judge: Saliann Scarpulla.  "In April 2002, the PLCB notified Volcano that, due to the number of times Volcano had been cited for violating regulations, it might decline to renew the liquor license and amusement permit for the establishment. In a letter dated May 21, 2003, the PLCB gave final notice to Volcano that its amusement permit would not be renewed and, ultimately, Volcano went out of business. Believing that it had been discriminatory targeted by the PLCB, plaintiffs consulted with Terence C. Scheurer, Esq. ("Scheurer") and signed a retainer agreement with the law firm of Scheurer & Hardy, PC ("S&H") on January 30, 2002 (the "Retainer"). S&H, a New York firm whose lawyers were not admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, was retained to "represent[] [Volcano] in a possible civil matter against the Pennsylvania State Police along
with other possible individuals and/or entities."2 Notice of Motion, Ex. J, ii l (emphasis in original). The Retainer further provides that it "does not cover any additional work in connection with appeals from any court decisions, orders, or any other actions." Id., ii 7. Finally, the Retainer states that ~'[a]ny and all changes to this retainer agreement must be made in writing and signed by both parties."

"Scheurer allegedly shared his views with LaManna regarding plaintiffs' potential claims and LaManna agreed to draft and file plaintiffs' complaint (the "Federal Complaint"). LaManna filed the Federal Complaint in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on November 15, 2002. Consistent with the terms of the Amended Retainer, defendants were listed as counsel on the Federal Complaint, but they did not sign it. Nevertheless, S&H claims that it did not authorize or consent for LaManna to put their firm name and address on the Federal Complaint, did not sign any pleading filed in Federal Court on behalf of plaintiffs, and did not file a Notice of Appearance in the Federal Action. By order dated January 31, 2005, the District Court entered summary judgment in favor of defendants and dismissed the complaint in its entirety. Plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration and, by order dated June 20, 2005, the Court granted that motion in part, but affirmed summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Plaintiffs commenced the present action on June 17, 2008, asserting causes of action for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract based on defendants' "

"Because plaintiffs' claim for legal malpractice was not filed within two years of the alleged malpractice and plaintiffs do not allege, much less meet, this standard for tolling under Pennsylvania }aw, their claim is time-barred. See Kat House Prods., LLCv. Paul, Hastings, Janofsky& Walker, LLP, 2009WL1032719(Sup. Ct., NY Co. Apr. 6, 2009)( dismissing legal malpractice claims time-barred in California); see also Portfolio Recovery Assoc., LLC v. King, 14 N.Y.3d 410 (2010)(holding that because contract claims are time-barred in Delaware, under CPLR 202 they are time-barred in New York); Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Morgan Stanley, 2013 WL 3724938, *8 (Sup. Ct., NY Co. June 8, 2013). Plaintiffs' claim for breach of fiduciary duty is also subject to a two-year statute of limitations under Pennsylvania law. See Zimmer v. Gruntal & Co., Inc., 732 F.Supp. 1330, 1336 (W.D. Pa. 1989)(citing 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. 5524(7))."

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