Today, we will examine the criminal conviction – legal malpractice case from Plaintiff’s point of view.  Dawson v Schoenberg
2015 NY Slip Op 04603  Decided on June 3, 2015  Appellate Division, Second Department is really a disheartening view of human interactions.  It seems that everyone in this story was poorly treated.

From the decision on Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment:

“In a prior criminal proceeding, the plaintiff was convicted of three counts of course of sexual conduct against a child and one count of sexual abuse in the second degree based upon allegations that she sexually abused two of her children over a period of years. On appeal, this Court reversed the judgment of conviction on the grounds that the plaintiff was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel and that, when viewed as whole, the manner in which the trial was conducted deprived her of her right to a fair trial. Accordingly, this Court remitted the matter to the County Court, Nassau County, for a new trial before a different Judge (see People v Dean, 50 AD3d 1052). After the new trial, the plaintiff was acquitted of the charges against her.

To recover damages for legal malpractice, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant attorney failed to exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession, and that the breach of this duty proximately caused the plaintiff to sustain actual and ascertainable damages (see McCoy v Feinman, 99 NY2d 295, 301-302; Biberaj v Acocella, 120 AD3d 1285, 1286). Even where a plaintiff establishes that his or her attorney failed to exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by members of the legal profession, the plaintiff must still demonstrate causation (see Di Giacomo v Michael S. Langella, P.C., 119 AD3d 636, 638).

For the reasons stated more fully in our decision and order in a companion appeal (see Dawson v Schoenberg, _____ AD3d _____ [Appellate Division Docket No. 2013-11367; decided herewith]), the plaintiff failed to demonstrate, prima facie, that her convictions were “due to the [*2]attorney’s actions alone and not due to some consequence of [her] guilt” (Britt v Legal Aid Socy., 95 NY2d 443, 447; see Dombrowski v Bulson, 19 NY3d 347, 350). Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability, without regard to the sufficiency of the papers submitted in opposition (see Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Ctr., 64 NY2d 851).”

Tomorrow, we’ll look at this case from Defendant’s side.

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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.