We admit to being a little confused.  A Judiciary Law § 487 claim seeks damages because of attorney deceit, which generally must happen in a litigation setting.  Must the claim be brought in the underlying setting or later, in a separate action.  The answer seems to reside in whether the 487 claim merely seeks to vacate the underlying claim.  But what happens when the client loses the underlying case, has the complaint dismissed, or (as a defendant) has a judgment entered.  Cannot the client then sue for deceit?

In a cryptic decision, DeMartino v Lomonaco  2017 NY Slip Op 07706 Decided on November 8, 2017 Appellate Division, Second Department says, no.

“The Supreme Court also properly granted that branch of the moving defendants’ motion which was for summary judgment dismissing the causes of action alleging fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, violation of Judiciary Law § 487, and prima facie tort insofar as asserted against them. Generally, a party who has lost an action as a result of alleged fraud or false testimony cannot collaterally attack the judgment in a separate action against the party who adduced the false evidence, and the plaintiff’s remedy lies exclusively in moving to vacate the judgment (see North Shore Envtl. Solutions, Inc. v Glass, 17 AD3d 427, 427-428; Retina Assoc. of Long Is. v Rosberger, 299 AD2d 533; New York City Tr. Auth. v Morris J. Eisen, P.C., 276 AD2d 78, 87; Yalkowsky v Century Apts. Assoc., 215 AD2d 214, 215). Under an exception to that rule, a separate action may be commenced where the alleged perjury or fraud in the underlying action was “merely a means to the accomplishment of a larger fraudulent scheme” (Newin Corp. v Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co., 37 NY2d 211, 217) which was “greater in scope than the issues determined in the prior proceeding” (Retina Assoc. of Long Is. v Rosberger, 299 AD2d at 533 [internal quotation marks omitted]).

Here, the moving defendants established their prima facie entitlement to summary judgment dismissing the causes of action alleging fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, violation of Judiciary Law § 487, and prima facie tort insofar as asserted against them by demonstrating that the plaintiffs are merely attempting to collaterally attack an order issued in the underlying action. In opposition, the plaintiffs only raised conclusory and unsubstantiated allegations that the moving defendants’ fraud in the underlying action was “merely a means to the accomplishment of a larger fraudulent scheme” (Newin Corp. v Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co., 37 NY2d at 217).”