It’s rare for legal malpractice or Judiciary Law § 487 claims to be heard in Surrogate’s Court.  Here, in Cooper v Klencner  2018 NY Slip Op 30664(U)  April 13, 2018  Surrogate’s Court, New York County Docket Number: 2014-2912/C  Judge: Rita M. Mella the fight is over a late-in-life bequest of a large-value liquor company to the long-time bookkeeper and personal assistant.

“Sherry Cooper and Alan Hyman are the co-administrators of the estate of Sidney Cooper, deceased, who died intestate on July 16, 2014, in New York County. In the action transferred from the Supreme Court, they seek monetary damages arising from what they claim was an invalid gift by decedent of his shares in Roehling Liquors, Inc., as well as its assets and liabilities, to Klencner, decedent’s long-time bookkeeper and personal assistant. Defendant Heller prepared the documents related to the transfer of the shares, which is also at the heart of the contested SCP A 2103  proceeding pending in this court. In that proceeding, the co-administrators seek the return of decedent’s interest in Roehling Liquors, Inc., as well as other assets to the estate.

Plaintiffs’ verified complaint asserts several causes of action against Heller including
breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, aiding and abetting
conversion, and Judiciary Law § 487. ”

“Heller’s motion to dismiss the breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, aiding and abetting conversion, and Judiciary Law § 487 causes of action asserted against him is denied. The documentary evidence submitted by Heller does not dispose conclusively of plaintiffs’ claims (CPLR 3211 [a][l]). The court also concludes that the complaint states a claim for each of the above-mentioned causes of action, including fraud. The facts, as pleaded, are “sufficient to permit a reasonable inference of the alleged [fraudulent] conduct” (Pludeman v Northern Leasing Sys., Inc., 10 NY3d 486, 492 [2008]). In addition, the relevant facts here are “peculiarly within the knowledge” of Heller, and it may be difficult at the pleading stage for plaintiffs to describe all the circumstances that led to the transfer of decedent’s assets to Klencner (Bibbo v Arvanitakis, 145 AD3d 657 [2d Dept 2016]) . ”

 

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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.