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 ). 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]) . ”