Justice March Friedman ruled last week that Wilson Elser must disgorge $ 3 Million + fees based upon a  breach of fiduciary duty, and faces $100 in legal malpractice damages as the case progresses.  The story goes on:

"Insurance defense giant Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker has been ordered to disgorge millions of dollars in legal fees paid by an insurance client who accused the firm of helping another client set up a competing business.

In a March 29 decision, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Marcy S. Friedman granted summary judgment to trustee liability insurer Ulico Casualty Co. on its claim that former counsel Wilson Elser breached its fiduciary duty by participating in a scheme to transfer Ulico policyholders to another insurer.

The judge ruled that there was "no triable issue of fact" about Wilson Elser’s breach of its duty to Ulico and said the law firm had failed "to perceive its ethical obligation to Ulico."

"While Wilson Elser had the right to represent competitors … it did not have the right to represent competitors in setting up a competing business to which it was contemplated that Ulico’s accounts would be transferred," Friedman wrote in Ulico Casualty Co. v. Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, 602229/99.

"Put another way … Wilson Elser did not have the right to prefer one client over another when the clients’ interests diverged," the judge continued.

She ordered Wilson Elser to forfeit all legal fees it received from Ulico from Jan. 1, 1996, to June 30, 1999. Ulico has claimed it paid the law firm more than $3.4 million in fees during that time. The judge also permitted Ulico to go forward with other claims for legal malpractice and tortious interference with contract. Ulico has requested total damages from Wilson Elser of more than $100 million. "

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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.