Judiciary Law § 487 claims do not generally get to a jury. In Dupree v Voorhees
2017 NY Slip Op 06062 Decided on August 9, 2017 Appellate Division, Second Department a 12 year old case, which long ago raised new issues in Judiciary Law § 487 ended with a non-jury verdict.
In Dupree, the 487 claims were dismissed, then re-instated on re-argument after the Court of Appeals decided Amalfitano v Rosenberg, 12 NY3d 8. The Appellate Division took a look at the case and reinstated the 487 claim against a partner, on a vicarious liability analysis. Now, a verdict.
“The plaintiff commenced this action, inter alia, to recover damages for violation of Judiciary Law § 487 against, among others, Karyn A. Villar and Villar’s law partner, Dorothy A. Courten (hereinafter together the defendants). The plaintiff alleged that in an underlying divorce action, in which Villar represented the plaintiff’s former husband, Villar made misrepresentations in applying for a receivership order and that she intended to deceive the court in connection with that application. The plaintiff alleged that because the defendants were partners of the same law firm, Courten was vicariously liable for the damages she sustained as a result of Villar’s actions. After a nonjury trial, the Supreme Court determined, among other things, that the plaintiff failed to establish that Villar violated Judiciary Law § 487 and that the action should be dismissed.
“In reviewing a determination made after a nonjury trial, this Court’s power to review the evidence is as broad as that of the trial court, and this Court may render a judgment it finds warranted by the facts, bearing in mind that due regard must be given to the trial court, which was in a position to assess the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses” (L’Aquila Realty, LLC v Jalyng Food Corp., 148 AD3d 1004, 1005; see Northern Westchester Professional Park Assoc. v Town of Bedford, 60 NY2d 492, 499; Broderson v Parsons, 106 AD3d 677, 679).
Judiciary Law § 487(1) provides that “[a]n attorney or counselor who . . . [i]s guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party . . . [i]s guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment prescribed therefor by [*2]the penal law, he [or she] forfeits to the party injured treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.” “A violation of Judiciary Law § 487 requires an intent to deceive” (Moormann v Perini & Hoerger, 65 AD3d 1106, 1108; see Judiciary Law § 487; Ginsburg Dev. Cos., LLC v Carbone, 134 AD3d 890, 893; Dupree v Voorhees, 102 AD3d 912, 913). Here, the evidence adduced at trial, including the testimony of Villar, supports the trial court’s determination that Villar did not act with the requisite “intent to deceive the court or any party” in applying for the receivership (Judiciary Law § 487).
In any event, to succeed on a cause of action to recover damages under Judiciary Law § 487, the plaintiff must demonstrate that he or she “suffered . . . damages which were proximately caused by the deceit allegedly perpetrated on him [or her] or on the court” (O’Connor v Dime Sav. Bank of N.Y., 265 AD2d 313, 314; see Manna v Ades, 237 AD2d 264, 265; Di Prima v Di Prima, 111 AD2d 901, 902). The evidence adduced at trial also supports the trial court’s conclusion that the plaintiff failed to establish that she suffered pecuniary damages as a result of the alleged deceit. Therefore, we decline to disturb the trial court’s determination.”