Thomas v Weitzman  2018 NY Slip Op 30528(U)  March 26, 2018  Supreme Court, New York County  Docket Number: 151876/2016  Judge: Kathryn E. Freed is the story of a plaintiff injured at at NYCHA premises.  Taken to the hospital for surgery, she claims medical malpractice.  These few facts immediately summon forth the questions of suing a municipal authority, the timing of service upon that authority and how a medical malpractice case arising from a negligent act is apportioned.  Sadly, fumbling of the preliminaries ended in no law suit at all.  The legal malpractice wranglings followed.

“Thon1as retained third-party defendant Baron Associates to assert a personal injury claim against NYCHA. She also retained third-party defendant the Perecman Firm to pursue a medical malpractice claim against third-party defendants Richmond University Medical Center and Dr. Brandon.
On December 21, 2011, Baron Associates served and filed a notice of claim against NYCHA and the City of New York. According to Baron Associates, Thomas failed to appear for her initial General Municipal Law (GML) § 50-h examination, scheduled for February 21, 2012, as well as a rescheduled examination on April 30, 2012. Subsequently, Baron Associates sent Thomas a disengagement letter (Disengagement Letter), dated May 17, 2012. The Disengagement Letter advised Thomas that: Baron Associates would no longer represent her, due to her “lack of cooperation and failure to participate in the case”; the statute of limitations for a negligence claim
against NYCHA was one year and 90 days and would expire on February 15, 2013; and her appearance at a 50-h examination was a prerequisite for commencing a lawsuit. McDonald
affirmation, exhibit Q. Baron Associates asserts that it had no further contact with Thomas. ”

“According to the Perecman Firm, it never commenced an action on Thomas’s behalf. By
letter dated April 26, 2012, Thomas informed the firm that she was discharging it and that she had
retained the Weitzman Defendants. Enclosed was a “Consent to Change Attorney” form (Change
of Attorney Form), already executed by Thomas and Weitzman, as well as a letter from Weitzman,
instructing the Pe.recman Firm to contact Weitzman Law regarding the transfer of Thomas’s file
and payment of the Perecman Finn’s disbursements. Rigelhaupt affirmation, exhibit 4. According
to the Perecman Firm, it executed and returned the Change of Attorney Form, along with a request
for payment of its disbursements. It allegedly sent follow-up requests for payment by letters dated
August 9 and October 2, 2012, but Weitzman Law never paid. ”

In a complicated series of motion events, Judge Freed denied dismissal and found frivolous conduct.  The details are too complicated and Judge Freed’s writing is too good for publishing only certain snippets.  We ask you to read the balance of the case, especially starting at page 8.