Attorney fee disputes reflexively lead to legal malpractice claims.  While that is true, the concept that all legal malpractice claims are dubious strongly overshadows the unassailable fact that attorneys are human, and that without any doubt, humans make mistakes.  That being said, Louis F. Burke PC v Aezah 2017 NY Slip Op 32670(U) December 14, 2017 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 654778/2016 Judge: David B. Cohen is an example of not too much substance in a counterclaim.

” The Complaint alleges that defendants had made a payment on October 17, 2014, there remained an outstanding balance of $42,937.50. As plaintiff was still the attorney of record, it sought information from defendants relating to new counsel. As such information was not provided, LFB remained as the attorney of record, and incurred an additional $17,520 in legal fees until relieved by the Court in May of 2015, leaving a total outstanding balance of $60,457.50. ‘ Plaintiff sent and defendants received invoices on July: 28, 2015, September 10, 2015, and April 21, 2016 of the outstanding balance. On October 20, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant matter seeking to recover lost fees and alleged breach of contract, quantum meruit and accounts stated. Defendant answered and asserted six counterclaims for (1) breach of contract, (2) ordinary ; .! negligence, (3) breach of fiduciary duty, (4) professional malpractice, 1 (5) violation of Judiciary : Law, 487, and (6) “reasonable legal fees.” In the instant motion, plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on the fourth cause of action of account stated and for dismissal pursuant to ; CPLR 3211 (a)(l) and (7) of all counterclaims. Following several attempts at resolving the motion and the action in its entirety, plaintiff has withdrawn the summary judgment portion of this motion and now only seeks the dismissal of the counterclaims portion. ”

“Although defendants have tried to re-write the, counterclaims, the first counterclaim is for ‘I breach of contract arising out plaintiff’s actions that allegedly led to defendants not having ·; i prop~r legal representation. The breach of contract cl~im is dismissed as duplicative of the malpractice counterclaim (Mamoon v Dot Net inc., 135 AD3d 656, 658 [1st Dept 2016]”

“Similarly, the second counterclaim for negligence is dismissed as duplicative of the legal malpractice claim (see Cusack v Greenberg Traurig. LLP, 109 AD3d 747, 748 [1st Dept 2013]. This point is not contested by defendants. In addition defendants have not stated any facts that give rise even to an allegation of negligence. ”

“The fifth cause of action is also dismissed. Juiciary Law § 487 provides recourse only 1! where there is a chronic and extreme pattern of legal delinquency (.Jaroslawicz v Cohen, 12 AD3d 16012004]; see also Dinluder v Med. Liab Mut. Ins. Co., 92 AD3d 480 [1st Dept 2012]. I! Givi;1g claimant every favorable inference, the counterclaims sets forth but one alleged misrepresentation by defendant and accordingly docs i~ot allege a cognizable claim under Judiciary Law § 487 (Solow 1\{‘?f. Corp. v Seltzer, 18 AD3d 399 [1st Dept 2005]. Based upon the forgoing, defendants’ counterclaim for attorney’s fees;is also dismissed. “{

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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…

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.