As reported in the Lincoln Nebraska Journal Star attorney David Domina has won a legal malpractice verdict of $1.6 million dollars. The case is reported here.

The A.P reports: OMAHA — The state’s second-largest law firm has been slammed with a $1.6 million judgment for legal malpractice.

“On Monday, a Douglas County jury voted 11 to 1 against McGrath North Mullin & Kratz, ruling that the firm must pay $1.6 million to Richard T. Bellino, a La Vista keno operator.

The jury ruled that attorneys James D. Wegner, William F. Hargens and the firm did not fulfill their duties to properly advise Bellino about how to separate from his business partner before opening another business.

John R. Douglas, an attorney hired to defend the firm, said he will ask the judge to set aside the verdict. If the judge doesn’t, he will appeal.

He said his clients are very good lawyers who did not commit malpractice.

Bellino’s attorney, David Domina of Omaha, said McGrath North should have advised Bellino to make a clean break with a partner before he bid on a keno contract.

Bellino partnered with Robert Anderson in 1989 in La Vista Lottery but later wanted to sever their partnership and open his own business. The attorneys at McGrath North advised him to maintain 50 percent of his share with La Vista Lottery and open the competing La Vista Keno at the same time.

Anderson sued Bellino after La Vista Keno won a contract over La Vista Lottery to provide keno to La Vista.

The suit was based on a 1913 Nebraska Supreme Court ruling that an officer-shareholder “owes a duty of absolute loyalty” to his company and “may not harm it.”

Anderson won the initial ruling in 2003, and Bellino sued his attorneys soon after.

“One of the most elementary purposes for civil law is to get people out of unwanted relationships,” Domina said. “Bellino went to these lawyers with a basic, simple, everyday legal problem: ‘I want out of this business.’

“I had no doubt that (McGrath North) gives high-quality advice every day,” Domina said. “They just didn’t do it in this case.””

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Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened…

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.