How the case was dismissed becomes the most important issue in Finamore v David Ullman, P.C. 2020 NY Slip Op 00105 Decided on January 8, 2020 Appellate Division, Second Department .
“In an action to recover damages for legal malpractice, the plaintiff, Sandro Finamore, in his capacity as executor of the estate of Ione Finamore, deceased, appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Karen B. Rothenberg, J.), dated April 20, 2017. The order granted the defendants’ motion (1) pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate an order of the same court dated January 25, 2017, granting the plaintiff’s unopposed motion for leave to amend the caption and to restore the action to the calendar, and thereupon to deny the plaintiff’s motion, and (2) to dismiss the complaint, and denied the plaintiff’s cross motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability. The appeal brings up for review so much of an order of the same court dated November 16, 2017, as, upon reargument, adhered to the determination in the order dated April 20, 2017 (see CPLR 5517[b]).”
“The defendants contend that the action was marked off the calendar on November 6, 2015, for failure to file a note of issue. However, the record does not contain a 90-day notice demanding the filing of a note of issue, and the defendants acknowledge in their brief on appeal that discovery has yet to be completed. The defendants also contend that the action was subject to dismissal pursuant to CPLR 3404. However, if no note of issue was filed, the action could not have been on the trial calendar, and CPLR 3404 would not apply (see Kapnisakis v Woo, 114 AD3d 729).
The defendants further contend that the plaintiff lacked the capacity to make the prior motion, and that the statute of limitations to commence an action as an estate representative expired before the plaintiff made the prior motion (see CPLR 210[a]). However, the plaintiff had the capacity to commence this action on his mother’s behalf as her attorney-in-fact pursuant to the power of attorney (see Benishai v Epstein, 116 AD3d 726, 726). The statute of limitations does not bar the action, provided that the plaintiff actually had the capacity to sue prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations (see Vastola v Maer, 39 NY2d 1019, 1021; Van der Stegen v Neuss, Hesslein & Co., 270 NY 55, 62-63; cf. Goldberg v Camp Mikan-Recro, 42 NY2d 1029, 1029-1030). Upon his mother’s death, the plaintiff correctly sought substitution of himself in his capacity as administrator of her estate (see CPLR 1021).
Accordingly, the defendants’ arguments in opposition to the plaintiff’s prior motion which was granted in the order dated January 25, 2017, were without merit, and the Supreme Court should have denied the defendants’ motion to vacate that order, which was entered upon their default in opposing the prior motion.”