Upstate law firm Upton, Cohen & Slamowitz are still in a EDNY debt collection case brought by an irate consumer.  The consumer’s claim is that the law firm did not follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) obligation to review the case before sending a dunning letter, and that it have meaningful attorney involvement,.

The case continues.

"In rejecting Upton Cohen’s summary judgment motion last week, Eastern District Judge Raymond Dearie ruled that Upton Cohen had not sufficiently shown it had conducted an adequate review of Mr. Miller’s file.

"Neither the facts about defendant’s familiarity with its client, nor those about the procedure it followed prior to sending the July 18, 2000, debt collection letter to plaintiff, preclude the possibility that a reasonable jury could find that it failed to satisfy [the FDCPA’s] requirement for meaningful attorney involvement," Judge Dearie wrote in Miller v. Wolpoff & Abramson, 01 Civ. 1126.

He noted that the act requires that lawyers sending debt collection letters to have made some independent evaluation of the claims and not simply rely on a client’s assertion that a debt is owed. He said Mr. Slamovitz’s review of the facts appeared to have been "largely ministerial," with the lawyer relying heavily on the department store’s version of events.

Judge Dearie further noted that Mr. Slamovitz’s reliance on Lord & Taylor did not appear to be based on any knowledge of the store’s review procedures with regard to overdue accounts.

Upton Cohen’s large volume of debt collections also factored into the judge’s decision. He noted that the firm sent letters to 3,284 debtors in July 2000. This level of activity "raises doubts about defendant’s claims to have conducted a careful review of plaintiff’s file," the judge wrote.

Mr. Miller also had originally sued Rockville, Md.’s Wolpoff & Abramson, a much larger debt collection firm that referred the case to Upton Cohen. But that firm reached an agreement with the plaintiff.

Upton Cohen was represented by Mark Anesh of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker."

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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.