Wrangles between lawyers is certainly no headline.  Lawyers allowing venom to overpower reason similarly is no news.  The case of Minchew, Santner & Brenner, LLP, and Jamie M. Minchew, v. John H. Somoza, Eleftherios Kravaris, Melito & Anderson, P.C., Westport Insurance Corporation and Louis Venezia, SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, RICHMOND COUNTY ,2008 NY Slip Op 50112U; January 17, 2008, is a prime example of failure to mitigate damages.

This case is an offshoot of another legal malpractice case.  Plaintiff hired Venezia to prosecute an action in the Court of Claims.  It is alleged that Venezia did not file the notice of claim timely.  His insurance defense attorneys asked plaintiff to file a motion seeking leave to file a late notice of claim, which was not done. 

When plaintiff would not try to mitigate his damages by moving for leave to file a late notice of claim, Venezia third-partied plaintiff’s attorneys on the theory that they could have mitigated, but did not.  The Minchew firm [plaintiff’s attorneys] then brought this retaliatory suit.  The court wrote:

"This action arises from an underlying legal malpractice 1 action currently pending before this Court, where Mr. Eugene Cacho’s initial attorney, Louis Venezia, failed to timely file a notice of claim with the State of New York. As a result, Mr. Cacho severed his representation and hired the plaintiff Minchew Santner & Brenner LLP (hereinafter "Minchew"), and Jamie M. Minchew, personally, to represent him in a legal malpractice action against The Law Office of Louis Venezia (hereinafter Venezia). Venezia thereafter hired the defendants John H. Somoza, Eleftherios Kravaris, Melito & Anderson, P.C., (hereinafter collectively known as "Somoza"), to represent him in that matter. In the course of his representation, defendant Somoza requested that plaintiff [**2] Minchew apply to file a late notice of claim considering that the statute of limitations has not yet expired in the personal injury action, in effect, severely mitigating the damages and/or resolving the case. After this Court repeatedly recommended that the parties in this action cooperate and apply to file a late notice of claim, the defendants impleaded plaintiffs as a third party in the Cacho action which thereafter caused Minchew to bring this retaliatory action alleging the aforementioned causes of action. " 

When no one would play nice, the court wrote:  "As a result, all causes of action alleged by the plaintiff in their complaint are dismissed. All other requested relief is denied or academic. Finally, this Court will again strongly urge the attorneys involved in these matters to cooperate and set aside these vindictive and unnecessary actions in an effort to resolve [**9] this case. "

Question:  who is hurt when attorneys play like this?

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
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 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.