One of the lessons to learn in litigation is: "stick to what you know."  Woe to the first time practitioner who takes on a new area of law.  Here is an example of an attorney who did not realize that almost all insurance policies have a short statute of limitations.  The policy called for one year, the CPLR granted a minimum of two years, but unfortunately, the attorney thought it was a 6 year contract statute. 

"In September 1996, plaintiff retained defendant to represent her in connection with a hazard insurance claim for damages caused to her residence and place of business in a December 1995 fire. The parties were unable to reach a settlement and defendant commenced an action on plaintiff’s behalf against the insurer, among others, in February 2000. Supreme Court (Rumsey, J.) granted the insurer’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the action had not been commenced within the insurance policy’s two-year statute of limitations, and this Court affirmed (Bergin v Quincy Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 289 AD2d 661 [2001]). In this action, plaintiff claims that defendant’s failure to timely commence the underlying action against the insurer constituted legal malpractice. She appeals from the denial of her motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of defendant’s negligence, and we now reverse.

Defendant does not dispute that the insurance policy contained a [*2]provision limiting the time to commence suit to one year and that the provision was properly construed to conform to the two-year statutory minimum period (see Insurance Law § 3103 [a]; § 3404 [e]). Rather, he asserts that he believed that the six-year limitations period for contractual claims applied (see CPLR 213), was not aware of the potential for a contractual statute of limitations being incorporated within the policy itself and learned of the two-year contractual limitations period only upon service of the insurer’s answer. In our view, however, inasmuch as the insurance policy indisputably set forth a shortened statute of limitations and defendant admittedly failed to commence an action within the applicable time frame provided by statute, his conduct "fell below the ordinary and reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed in the legal profession," and constituted negligence as a matter of law (A.H. Harris & Sons v Burke, Cavalier, Lindy & Engel, 202 AD2d 929, 930 [1994]; see Deitz v Kelleher & Flink, supra at 945; see also Logalbo v Plishkin, Rubano & Baum, 163 AD2d 511, 514 [1990], lv dismissed 77 NY2d 940 [1991]; Shaughnessy v Baron, 151 AD2d 561, 562 [1989]; see generally Jones Lang Wootton USA v LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, 243 AD2d 168, 175 [1998], lv dismissed 92 NY2d 962 [1998]). Accordingly, we reject defendant’s argument that there is a question of fact under these circumstances and conclude that plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment on the issue of whether defendant was negligent in failing to properly commence her action against the insurer (see Williams v Kublick, 302 AD2d 961, 961-962 [2003]; Stanksi v Ezersky, 210 AD2d 186, 186 [1994]). "

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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.