For a well written discussion of the elements of continuous representation, we suggest that RJR Mech. Inc. v Ruvoldt  2017 NY Slip Op 31232(U)  June 8, 2017  Supreme Court, New York County  Docket Number: 158764/2015  Judge: Jeffrey K. Oing serves as a prime example.

” As in the first action, the. complaint in the second action alleges that the Norwest Bank action resulted in a private auction iri which the Maspeth Property was sold, with the proceeds distributed· pursuant to a co~rt order: $424,790.42 to plaintiff and $1,450,992.89 to EMV, the prior owner of the Maspeth Property (Verified Complaint.”

“Plaintiff’s new allegations are as follows. Plaintiff alleges that not only did Ruvoldt represent it in the Norwest Bank action,.but he also represented it in another action commenced in 2004 against it and related to the Maspeth Property: EMV Realty Corp. v RJR MechanicaL- Inc., ‘Index No. 14778/2004 (Sup Ct, Queens County) (the “EMV Realty actionn). Plaintiff alleges it retained Ruvoldt to represent it and one of its principalsj Roy Leibo~itz (“Leibowitzn) in the EMV Realty a6tion (Verified Complaint, !! 14-15). The EMV Realty action has laid dormant since 2005, save for a single 2011 substitution of counsel ”

“Notwithstanding the motion to withdraw, plaintiff further alleges that defendants continued representing it and that on March 8, 2011 Espinosa informed Karpman of his continuing discussion with counsel concerning an extension of the time to appeal and settle the Nortwest Bank action (Verified Complaint, ‘1I 28) .· Plaintiff contends that this allegation is also supported by a March 7, .2011 letter sent from Espinosa to Karpman and Leibowitz stating that defendants would take steps to “protect” plaintiff’s rights (Pl. Memo of Law in Opp., p. 6; Espinosa Affirm., Ex. E). ”

“Pursuant to CPLR 214(6), an action for legal malpractice must be commenced within three years from the date of accrual (Shumsky v Eisenstein, 96 NY2d 164, 166 [2001]). A legal malpractice claim accrues when relief can be obtained in court (McCoy v Feinman, 99 NY2d 295, 301 [2002]) and from the time the actual injury stemming from the malpractice occurs, not when it is discovered (Id.). Here, defendants argue that any alleged failure to prepare for trial would have had to occur befor~ July 30, 2010, which is when the Supreme Court, Queens County, issued its distribution decision. Defendants argue that because more than three years elapsed between July _2010 and the filing of RJR’s first action on March 14, 2014, the failure to prepare allegation is time-barred by the statute of limitations. ”

“The continuous representation doctrine, which is the offspring of the continuous treatment doctrine, recognizes that a layperson seeking legal assistance “[h]as a right to repose confidence ~n the professional’s ability and good faith, and realistically cannot be expected to question and assess the techniques employed or the manner in which the services· are rendered” (Greene v Greene, 56 NY2d 86, 94 [1982]; Matter of Lawrence, 24 N~3d 320, 342-343 [2014]). “The continuousrepresentation doctrine tolls a statute of limitations where there is a mutual understa~ding of the need for further representation on the specific subject matter underlying the malpractice claim” (Zorn v Gilbert, 8 NY3d 933, 934 [2007] [internal quotations and citations omitted]). The two prerequisites needed to invoke a continuous representation toll are 1) a claim of misconduct regarding the mann~r in which the profession~l services were performed,· and 2) the ongoing provision bf professional services.with respect to the contested matter or transaction (Matter of Lawrence, 24 NY3d at 342). The ongoing representation must be specifically related to the matter in which the attorney committed the alleged malpractice (Id.; Johnson v Proskauer Rose LLP, 129 AD3d 59, 68 [1st Dept 2015]). The continuous representation doctrine is inapplicable where “plaintiff’s allegations establish defendant[s’] failures within a continuing professional relationship, not a course of representation as to the particular problems (conditions) that gave rise to plaintiff’s malpractice claims” (Id. at 341-342 [internal quotations and citations·omitted]). ”

“To the extent plaintiff relies on the EMV Realty action to toll the statute of limitations, plaintiff’s arguments are unavailing. Since 2011, when Loanzan Sheikh was substituted as · counsel, ther~ has been no activity in the EMV Realty action and, prior to that, since 2005, there had been no activity before the substitution. Contrary to plaintiff’s assertion, it would not have been under the reasonable belief that defendants were / actively representing it in the EMV Realty action. Further, and more import~ntly, in order for a legal malpractice claim to be subject to the continuous representation toll, the ongoing representation must be directly linked to the alleged malpractice. Given that plaintiff has failed to plead with sufficiency that the EMV Realty action is related to the underlying allegations of legal malpractice, the continuous representation doctrine cannot be transferred to the second action based on the EMV Realty action. Based on the foregoing, plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim is time-barred. ”

 

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…

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.