Gerschel v Christensen  2016 NY Slip Op 06794  Decided on October 18, 2016  Appellate Division, First Department brings up the inexplicable question of why plaintiffs wait so long to bring an action.  A trust dissolves, and plaintiffs don’t get their money.  They have either 3 or 6 years in which to sue.  However, nine years go by.  Why?

“The motion court providently exercised its discretion by accepting defense counsel’s excuse that he failed to make a timely motion to dismiss the amended complaint on behalf of defendants.

Except as to the tenth cause of action, defendants “set forth facts sufficient to make out a prima facie showing of a meritorious defense” (Bergen v 791 Park Ave. Corp., 162 AD2d 330, 331 [1st Dept 1990]). Plaintiffs’ claims for legal malpractice, negligence, conversion, unjust enrichment, and constructive trust accrued at the time of their injury; these claims are not subject to a discovery rule (see e.g. McCoy v Feinman, 99 NY2d 295, 301 [2002] [malpractice]; Playford v Phelps Mem. Hosp. Ctr., 254 AD2d 471, 471-472 [2d Dept 1998], lv denied 93 NY2d 806 [1999] [negligence]; Vigilant Ins. Co. of Am. v Housing Auth. of City of El Paso, Tex., 87 NY2d 36, 44 [1995] [conversion]; Kaufman v Cohen, 307 AD2d 113, 127 [1st Dept 2003] [unjust enrichment]; Knobel v Shaw, 90 AD3d 493, 496 [1st Dept 2011] [constructive trust]). The statute of limitations for malpractice, negligence, and conversion is three years (McCoy, 99 NY2d at 301; Playford, 254 AD2d at 471; Vigilant, 87 NY2d at 44); that for unjust enrichment and constructive trust is six years (Knobel, 90 AD3d at 495-496). Plaintiffs were injured in November 2001, when the Bella Meyer Trust and Francine Meyer de Camaret Trust were dissolved and plaintiffs failed to receive their share of the distributions therefrom. Thus, the statutes of limitation ran either in November 2004 or November 2007, depending on the cause of action. Plaintiffs did not sue until September 2010.”

“Where “an allegation of fraud is essential to a breach of fiduciary duty claim” (IDT Corp. v Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 12 NY3d 132, 139 [2009]), the statute of limitations is six years (id.), and “[t]he discovery accrual rule … applies” (Kaufman, 307 AD2d at 122). Two of the plaintiffs submitted affidavits saying they did not know until early September 2008 that the trusts had been distributed in 2001. On the other hand, plaintiffs’ father submitted an affidavit [*2]saying that his sons were aware that distributions had been made by or before 2003. Where, as here, “[i]ssues of fact are created in the affidavits submitted on behalf of the opposing parties” (Bishop v Galasso, 67 AD2d 753 [3d Dept 1979]), a defendant can establish a meritorious defense and is entitled to have a default judgment vacated (id.).

When a plaintiff alleges fraud or constructive fraud (cf. Colon v Banco Popular N. Am., 59 AD3d 300, 301 [1st Dept 2009]), “[a] cause of action for negligent misrepresentation accrues on the date of the alleged misrepresentation which is relied upon by the plaintiff” (Fandy Corp. v Lung-Fong Chen, 262 AD2d 352, 353 [2d Dept 1999]). The complaint does not allege that defendants made any misrepresentation on which plaintiffs relied.”

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
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.