Plaintiff is a doctor who was sued in medical malpractice for an Erbs palsy case.  He settled, and then turned to sue his attorney alleging that the attorney forced him to settle, failed to use photographs of the birth which woul have exonorated him, and allowing the doctor to be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

The NJ Supreme Court reversed a summary judgment decision against the doctor, and the case continues in part:

Steinberg’s remaining claims for damage to his reputation and for legal fees and costs resulting from the alleged legal malpractice should not have been summarily dismissed. Damage to reputation does not require proof of economic loss. Under the law of libel, damages are divided into three categories:

(1) Punitive or exemplary damages, where actual malice or recklessness is shown; (2) special damages, such as loss of business, which are recoverable only upon proof of loss of specific economic benefits; and (3) general damages which the law presumes to follow inevitably from a defamatory publication and which, therefore, are often recoverable without proof of injury.

[Bock v. Plainfield Courier-News, 45 N.J. Super. 302, 309 (App. Div. 1957).]

Where legal malpractice is alleged to have proximately resulted in damage to the client’s reputation, as here, we see no reason to impose a more stringent proof requirement than is imposed by the law of libel. Thus, a client whose reputation has been damaged as a result of legal malpractice may recover general, or nominal, damages in the absence of "proof of loss of specific economic benefits." Ibid.

With respect to the legal fees and costs incurred in prosecuting the legal malpractice action, the Supreme Court in Saffer v. Willoughby, 143 N.J. 256, 272 (1996), held that "a negligent attorney is responsible for the reasonable legal expenses and attorney fees incurred by a former client in prosecuting a legal malpractice action." We have held that neither R. 4:42-9(a) nor the "American Rule" preclude such an award in a legal malpractice action. Bailey v. Pocaro & Pocaro, 305 N.J. Super. 1, 6 (App. Div. 1997). Accordingly, the motion judge erred in dismissing the legal malpractice action in its entirety.

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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.