Relentlessly applying analysis to the "but for" portion of a legal malpractice claim, the 2d Department modified a CPLR 3211 decision by Supreme Court.  Here, it reversed dismissal under CPLR 3211(a)(1) yet the case remains dismissed under CPLR 3211(a)(7) because the client could not pay the mortgage.

in Cervini v Zanoni ;  2012 NY Slip Op 03582   Decided on May 8, 2012   Appellate Division, Second Department  went through the argument.  Plaintiff sues defendant attorney for failing to make sure there was a three day rescission in the mortgage.  He still loses the legal malpractice case based upon the complaint which alleged that he was having significant problems paying the mortgage anyway.
 

"The Supreme Court, however, properly granted that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7). In considering a motion pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7), the facts alleged in the complaint are generally accepted as true and the plaintiffs are afforded the benefit of every possible inference (see Reid v Gateway Sherman, Inc., 60 AD3d 836, 837; Roth v Goldman, 254 AD2d 405, 406). In determining a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7), the court is concerned with only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory (see AG Capital Funding Partners, L.P. v State St. Bank & Trust Co., 5 NY3d 582, 591; Goshen v Mutual Life Ins. Co. of N.Y., 98 NY2d at 326; Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d at 87-88; Peery v United Capital Corp., 84 AD3d 1201).

"The equitable goal of rescission under TILA is to restore the parties to the status quo ante’ . . . [I]t was not the intent of Congress to reduce the mortgage company to an unsecured creditor or to simply permit the debtor to indefinitely extend the loan without interest" (American Mtge. Network, Inc. v Shelton, 486 F3d 815, 820-821 [citations omitted]). Accordingly, "[e]ffective rescission under the [TILA] requires the borrower to make restitution of the amounts expended by the lender" (Clemmer v Liberty Fin. Planning, Inc., 467 F Supp 272, 276; see Bustamante v First Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. of San Antonio, 619 F2d 360, 365). Thus, in order to state a cause of action for rescission of a loan and mortgage under the TILA, a mortgagee must assert both the mortgagor’s alleged TILA disclosure violation and that he or she can tender to the mortgagor the principal of the loan (see Berkeley Fed. Bank & Trust v Siegel, 247 AD2d 498).

Here, in alleging that the defendant committed legal malpractice by failing to answer and by failing to rescind the subject mortgage and loan pursuant to the TILA, the complaint fails to allege that the plaintiffs were able to tender to Wells Fargo the principal of the mortgage loan. Moreover, the plaintiffs admit in their proposed amended complaint that they "could not make their mortgage payments under [a] forbearance agreement" they had entered into while represented by the defendant herein. Accordingly, both the complaint and the proposed amended complaint failed to state a cause of action for legal malpractice based on the defendant’s failure to rescind the subject loan and mortgage pursuant to Wells Fargo’s alleged violation of the TILA. Therefore, the Supreme Court properly granted that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7).

Since the proposed amended complaint was patently devoid of merit, the plaintiffs’ cross motion for leave to amend the complaint should have been denied on the merits (see CPLR 3025[b]; Martin v Southern Container Corp., 92 AD3d 647, 649). [*3]"

 

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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.