Yesterday, we started a discussion of Randazzo v Nelson  2015 NY Slip Op 04299  Decided on May 20, 2015  Appellate Division, Second   Department which arose from the sale of a deli in Staten Island.  Deli’s make retail sales, and buyer’s attorney must know that there can be an audit by the NYS Tax Department of the sales taxes which are due.  There will almost always be some sales taxes due (from the current quarter), and the savvy buyer’s attorney will either follow the rules set forth by the Tax department, or hold a large enough escrow to survive any problems.

Unfortunately for buyer, this was not done, and a legal malpractice case ensued.

“The plaintiffs retained the defendant attorney to represent them in the purchase of a delicatessen known as Gentile’s, Inc. (hereinafter Gentile’s), in Staten Island. The transaction was consummated through a stock purchase agreement dated December 10, 2009. Prior to the February 25, 2010, closing, Gentile’s was dissolved by proclamation. The defendant drafted an indemnification and escrow agreement, which was executed at the closing, in which the seller agreed to indemnify the plaintiffs for claims relating to the period prior to closing. Funds were to be held in escrow by the seller’s attorney for seven days for the payment of liens. After receipt of a March 2, 2010, statement of tax liabilities from the Department of Taxation and Finance (hereinafter the Department), the seller paid the known outstanding tax liabilities, and the defendant authorized the release to the seller of the funds held in escrow. Almost two months later, the plaintiffs received notice from the Department that Gentile’s had outstanding sales tax liabilities, which had attached to their successor delicatessen pursuant to Tax Law § 1141(c).

The plaintiffs commenced this action against the defendant alleging, inter alia, legal malpractice. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(1) and (7). The Supreme Court granted the motion, and the plaintiffs appeal.

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7), the complaint is to be afforded a liberal construction, the facts alleged are presumed to be true, the plaintiff is afforded the benefit [*2]of every favorable inference, and the court is to determine only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory (see CPLR 3026; Goshen v Mutual Life Ins. Co. of N.Y., 98 NY2d 314, 326; Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87; Thompson Bros. Pile Corp. v Rosenblum, 121 AD3d 672, 673). Where a party offers evidentiary proof on a motion pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7), “the criterion is whether the proponent of the pleading has a cause of action, not whether he [or she] has stated one” (Guggenheimer v Ginzburg, 43 NY2d 268, 275;see Bua v Purcell & Ingrao, P.C., 99 AD3d 843, 845; Peter F. Gaito Architecture, LLC v Simone Dev. Corp., 46 AD3d 530). ” [A] court may freely consider affidavits submitted by the plaintiff to remedy any defects in the complaint'” (McGuire v Sterling Doubleday Enters., L.P.,19 AD3d 660, 661, quoting Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d at 88; see Rovello v Orofino Realty Co.,40 NY2d 633, 635; Berman v Christ Apostolic Church Intl. Miracle Ctr., Inc., 87 AD3d 1094, 1096-1097).”



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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.