RECENT CASES IN LEGAL MALPRACTICE

1. CHICAGO TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff, v BARBARA J. MAZULA, Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellant; JAMES E. KEABLE, Third-Party Defendant-Respondent.

SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE DIVISION, THIRD DEPARTMENT

2008 NY Slip Op 27
January 3, 2008

This is a case in which the question becomes whether an individual or an estate hired the attorney. In order for plaintiff to prevail, the court must determine that the estate hired the attorney, and each of the mistakes took place while the attorney represented the estate, not the individual.

“ Defendant argues that the toll applies because the sale of the property was not an isolated transaction, but an estate matter during which Keable continued [**4] to represent defendant’s husband’s estate long after the malpractice accrued. We disagree. The first deed attempted to convey what was believed to be the estate’s interest in the property whereas the second deed conveyed defendant’s personal interest. Regardless of how the first deed was executed, defendant, as a surviving tenant by the entirety, solely conveyed her personal interest (see Matter of Mischler, 30 AD3d 859, 860, 819 N.Y.S.2d 118 [2006]). Hence, as to both deeds, Supreme Court correctly determined that Keable was always acting for defendant in her individual capacity, not in her capacity as the executor of her husband’s estate 2. Since Keable performed no further work for [*3] defendant, either personally or in her capacity as executor of the estate after January 2000 in regard to this transaction, the commencement of this third-party action for legal malpractice was not timely.”

2. Gerald Goldman, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, et al., Defendants-Respondents.

SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT
2007 NY Slip Op 10492
December 27, 2007

In many legal malpractice cases, we find that the attorneys played several roles. Sometimes, they start as transactional attorneys, and morph into litigation attorneys.

Here the “documentary evidence [that] effectively precludes plaintiffs from arguing that defendants’ representation in the arbitrations was continuous with their representation in the sale. Such documentary evidence consists of the affidavit submitted by plaintiffs in a prior litigation that involved an unsuccessful attempt by a limited partner to disqualify defendants from representing plaintiffs in one of the arbitrations. Therein, one of the plaintiffs stated that while defendants were retained to advise plaintiffs and, if need be, serve as their litigation counsel, in connection with litigation then being threatened by the limited partners, as to the sale itself, defendants were retained only to draw the documents necessary to consummate a deal that had already been negotiated and agreed to. Holding plaintiffs to this position (see D & L Holdings v Goldman Co., 287 AD2d 65, 71-72, 734 N.Y.S.2d 25 [2001], lv denied 97 NY2d 611, 742 N.Y.S.2d 604, 769 N.E.2d 351 [2002]), defendants’ [**3] representation in the arbitrations, which involved the merits of the litigation that was being threatened by the limited partners at the time plaintiffs retained [*2] defendants, was distinct from their representation in "papering" the sale, which did not involve negotiating the terms of the sale or advising whether or not to proceed with it.”

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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 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.