Tort or Contract?  Legal malpractice is really neither of the two bi-polar options; it is a melding of both.  Privity of contact is required in a tort setting.  Statutes of limitation for contract are calculated on a tort scale.  The list goes on and on.

Willig v Danzig, Fishman & Decea  2018 NY Slip Op 05384  Decided on July 19,  2018   Appellate Division, Third Department  is an example of how the thought process can become hopelessly intertwined.

“Initially, we agree with defendant that because Supreme Court actually addressed the merits of defendant’s motion, we deem that the court granted reargument and then adhered to its original decision; therefore this appeal is properly before us (see HSBC Mtge. Corp. [USA] v Johnston, 145 AD3d 1240, 1240 [2016]; Matter of Barnes v Venettozzi, 135 AD3d 1250, 1251 [2016]; Rodriguez v Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, 126 AD3d 1183, 1184-1185 [2015], lv denied 25 NY3d 912 [2015]). We recognize that a party may successfully oppose a motion for summary judgment by relying on an unpleaded cause of action if such a cause of action is supported by the party’s submissions (see CPLR 3018 [b]; Balashanskaya v Polymed Community Care Ctr., P.C., 122 AD3d 558, 559 [2014]; Drago v Spadafora, 94 AD3d 1041, 1042 [2012]; Sheils v County of Fulton, 14 AD3d 919, 921 [2005], lv denied 4 NY3d 711 [2005]). The record shows that Sisca signed the retainer agreement with decedent on behalf of defendant, which agreement identified Peter F. Sisca and Thomas Decea, the latter of whom was one of defendant’s named partners, as the attorneys primarily “responsible for this engagement.” While defendant maintains that its contract with Sisca was inherent in its cocounsel relationship under the retainer agreement, the third-party complaint does not include a cause of action for breach of contract, and defendant actually characterizes its breach of fiduciary duty claim against Sisca as a tort. Moreover, the third-party complaint expressly identifies the retainer agreement between decedent and defendant as the “contract.” As such, we find no abuse of discretion in Supreme Court’s determination that a three-year limitations period applies to defendant’s breach of fiduciary duty claim, which seeks purely monetary relief (see IDT Corp. v Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 12 NY3d 132, 139 [2009]).”

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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.