In this version of Dr. v. Lawyer, it’s a knock-out to the lawyer.  Doctor  joins a medical practice and comes under scrutiny for his advocacy of “pranic healing.”  “Pranic Healing® is a highly evolved and tested system of energy medicine developed by GrandMaster Choa Kok Sui that utilizes prana to balance, harmonize and transform the body’s energy processes. Prana is a Sanskrit word that means life-force. This invisible bio-energy or vital energy keeps the body alive and maintains a state of good health. In acupuncture, the Chinese refer to this subtle energy as Chi. It is also called Ruach or the Breath of Life in Hebrew”

So, anyway, back to the legal malpractice.  Doctor had the opportunity to review a series of corporate amendments, and did not go to see the changes when offered.  The changes might have been aimed at him, and he was let go. Litigation ensued in Mendoza v Akerman Senterfitt LLP   2015 NY Slip Op 04193  Decided on May 14, 2015  Appellate Division, First Department.

“Plaintiff is a doctor specializing in pediatric, prenatal, and neonatal medicine. In April 2000, he joined nonparty Children’s and Women’s Physicians of Westchester, LLP (CWPW). He signed both an Amended and Restated Partnership Agreement dated, January 29, 1999, and an employment agreement that was subsequently amended in April 2002.

During the negotiations between CWPW and plaintiff, CWPW was represented by defendant Eric W. Olson’s prior law firm, and plaintiff was represented by independent counsel.

On October 25, 2010, nonparty Dr. Leonard Newman, CWPW’s president, sent an email to CWPW’s managing partners, including plaintiff. Newman’s email forwarded an email from defendant Olson, now a member of defendant Akerman Senterfitt LLP, regarding certain amendments to the partnership agreement:

“I am forwarding to each of you the recommendation of our attorney, Eric Olson . . . in the development of a tiered structure for Managing Partners . . . .”Please review the explanation listed below from Eric Olson. Questions can be directed to Mr. Olson [at his office].”. . . You can come to [an office at CWPW’s principal place of business] to review the documents. However, due to the confidential nature of the documents, we need to limit their distribution beyond the Chairman’s Office. Please stop by before November 15th.”

Olson’s email stated, “This e-mail intends to summarize the two major changes to CWPW’s Partnership Agreement” — namely, “Implementation of a Tiered Managing Partner Structure” and “Entities as Partners” [to meet requirements in the agreement]. In addition to “the two major changes” that Olsen mentioned, the amendment also amended, as relevant here, the grounds for removal of managing partners and the grounds for dissociation of a partner.

On March 8, 2011, Olson sent plaintiff a notice that CWPW intended to terminate his employment based on breaches of the employment agreement — specifically, because of his “pranic healing” practice. Thereafter, plaintiff commenced the instant action asserting causes of[*2]action for aiding and abetting CWPW’s breach of its fiduciary duty to plaintiff, breach of defendants’ fiduciary duties to plaintiff, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with contract and/or prospective economic advantage, and legal malpractice. Plaintiff’s allegations are based on his contention that defendants drafted certain amendments, not mentioned in the email, to expedite and facilitate his termination from the partnership. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint under CPLR 3211(a)(1) and (a)(7).

Contrary to plaintiff’s argument, the court applied the correct standards on this motion to dismiss and did not effectively convert the motion into one for summary judgment (see Zyskind v FaceCake Mktg. Tech., Inc., 110 AD3d 444 [1st Dept 2013]). The court properly deemed the above emails that were described and quoted in the complaint itself to be documentary evidence (see Amsterdam Hospitality Group, LLC v Marshall-Alan Assoc., Inc., 120 AD3d 431, 432-433 [1st Dept 2014]).

The legal malpractice claim was correctly dismissed because, as plaintiff acknowledged in his opening brief on appeal, defendants were CWPW’s attorneys, not his (see Waggoner v Caruso, 68 AD3d 1, 5 [1st Dept 2009], affd 14 NY3d 874 [2010]). Nor can plaintiff maintain a malpractice claim based on the fraud exception to the privity rule, since, as indicated, his fraud claim is not viable (see AG Capital Funding Partners, L.P. v State St. Bank & Trust Co., 5 NY3d 582, 595 [2005]; Griffith v Medical Quadrangle, 5 AD3d 151, 152 [1st Dept 2004]).”

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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.