In Judiciary Law § 487 cases, the First Department has additional hurdles to clear not present in other Departments.  While a single egregious event is sufficient outside of the First Department, Freeman v Brecher  2017 NY Slip Op 07949 Decided on November 14, 2017  Appellate Division, First Department shows us the three part test for the First Department.

The legal malpractice case is first dismissed:  “Plaintiff’s claim for legal malpractice in connection with an underlying settlement fails to state a cause of action in the absence of allegations that the “settlement . . . was effectively compelled by the mistakes of [defendant] counsel” (Bernstein v Oppenheim & Co., 160 AD2d 428, 430 [1st Dept 1990]) or the result of fraud or coercion (see Beattie v Brown & Wood, 243 AD2d 395 [1st Dept 1997]). Plaintiff’s equivocal denial of knowledge of the terms of the settlement is flatly contradicted by the clear terms of the settlement agreement (see Bishop v Maurer, 33 AD3d 497, 499 [1st Dept 2006], affd 9 NY3d 910 [2007]). Additionally, plaintiff’s speculative and conclusory allegations of proximately caused damages cannot serve as a basis for a legal malpractice claim (see Pellegrino v File, 291 AD2d 60, 63 [1st Dept 2002], lv denied 98 NY2d 606 [2002]). Plaintiff’s cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty arising from the same conduct was correctly dismissed as duplicative of the legal malpractice claim (see Garnett v Fox, Horan & Camerini, LLP, 82 AD3d 435, 436 [1st Dept 2011]; InKine Pharm. Co. v Coleman, 305 AD2d 151, 152 [1st Dept 2003]). Plaintiff has abandoned her breach of fiduciary duty claim based on a referral scheme, and, in any event, has failed to properly plead such a scheme.”

The JL § 487 claim comes next: “The Judiciary Law § 487 claims were correctly dismissed, as the conduct alleged does not evince a chronic and/or extreme pattern of legal delinquency (see Chowaiki & Co. Fine Art Ltd. v Lacher, 115 AD3d 600, 601 [1st Dept 2014]). Additionally, plaintiff has not alleged any proximately caused damages or identified any damages sustained as a result of Brecher’s alleged conflict of interest, which did not arise in the course of a judicial proceeding and thus is not actionable under the statute (see Meimeteas v Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, 105 AD3d 643 [1st Dept 2013]).”

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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 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.