There are some unique rules and principles in legal malpractice.  One of them is that damages have to be in the nature of pecuniary or economic loss.  Another is that damages have to be proximately linked to the departure by the attorney.

In Iannucci v Kucker & Bruh, LLP  2018 NY Slip Op 03514  Decided on May 16, 2018  Appellate Division, Second Department defendants called damages speculative.  This seemed to be good enough for Supreme Court, but not for the Appellate Division.

“In November 2002, the plaintiffs Robert Iannucci and Sonia Ewers, principals of the plaintiffs Clocktower Properties and Team Obsolete Promotions, Inc. (hereinafter collectively the plaintiffs), purchased property located at 325 Gold Street in Brooklyn (hereinafter the building), which, at that time, was zoned for commercial use. In connection with their purchase, Iannucci and Ewers assumed, among other things, the interest and rights in certain actions commenced by the previous owner to evict residential tenants located on the building’s second, fifth, and sixth floors, and in the south basement unit. Iannucci retained the defendants to represent the plaintiffs in the ongoing eviction actions and to take or maintain legal actions against subtenants in the building. During the time that the defendants represented the plaintiffs in the eviction actions, three of the four floors at issue were vacated either by settlement or as a result of an award of summary judgment. In January 2005, Iannucci retained new counsel. The remaining residential tenants eventually vacated the premises.

Subsequently, the plaintiffs commenced this action, inter alia, to recover damages for legal malpractice, alleging, among other things, that the defendants failed to prosecute the underlying eviction actions in a timely manner, which caused the plaintiffs to lose rental income in excess of $500,000. After the completion of discovery, the defendants moved, among other things, for summary judgment dismissing the legal malpractice cause of action. In the order appealed from, the Supreme Court, inter alia, granted that branch of the defendants’ motion which was for summary judgment dismissing that cause of action on the ground that the plaintiffs’ claim of loss was based [*2]on speculation. The plaintiffs appeal, as limited by their brief, from so much of the order as granted that branch of the defendants’ motion. We reverse the order insofar as appealed from.”

“Moreover, even if the plaintiffs’ damages cannot be precisely calculated at this stage, expenses to the client resulting from attorney delays are deemed to be ascertainable damages in connection with a legal malpractice cause of action (see e.g. VDR Realty Corp. v Mintz, 167 AD2d 986, 987 [noting that the plaintiff’s legal malpractice cause of action was validly grounded in allegations that the defendant attorney “unreasonably delayed the prosecution of a landlord-tenant holdover proceeding and engaged in dilatory tactics, thereby increasing the attorney’s fee and causing other consequential damages”]; accord Miuccio v Straci, 129 AD3d 515, 516 [motion for summary judgment dismissing legal malpractice cause of action was properly denied by the trial court where the plaintiff alleged that he sustained damages due to the defendant attorney’s delay]; see also Plato Gen. Constr. Corp./EMCO Tech Constr. Corp., JV, LLC v Dormitory Auth. of State of N.Y., 89 AD3d 819, 825-826 [noting that, regarding damages for delay, a “plaintiff must show that defendant was responsible for the delay; that these delays caused delay in completion of the contract (eliminating overlapping or duplication of delays); that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of these delays; and plaintiff must furnish some rational basis for the court to estimate those damages, although obviously a precise measure is neither possible nor required” (internal quotation marks omitted)]; Manshul Constr. Corp. v Dormitory Auth. of State of N.Y., 79 AD2d 383, 387).”

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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.