The Client is deaf.  A settlement is reached in his case.  The attorneys translate the settlement proposal to American Sign Language and the settlement is sealed.  The client then says that the settlement amount is not that which was translated.  He says he is getting less than he was told in ASL.  What to do?

Client brings case in Federal District Court where his claims are rejected.  Can he successfully sue the attorney?  In this case, no.

“The court properly concluded that collateral estoppel barred plaintiff from relitigating his claims that defendants improperly translated to and from American Sign Language (ASL) the amount he was willing to accept in settlement and then settled for an amount that was unacceptable to him. The Federal District Court’s opinion clearly addressed and rejected these claims, and the Second Circuit properly reviewed the District Court’s findings de novo. The allegations of the complaint in this action and in the federal action are the same, although here plaintiff has asserted legal malpractice, rather than seeking to void the settlement. The fact that the issue arose in the context of a different type of action is not dispositive because the factual findings necessary to support the claims are identical (see D’Arata v New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co. , 76 NY2d 659, 664 [1990]).

Additionally, plaintiff has not cited new evidence not raised in the federal courts, and he chose not to retain new counsel in the prior action after he discovered the claimed error. He also failed to point to differences in the applicable law in the prior action and here.

Plaintiff asserts that he did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate his claims because the federal court did not provide him with an ASL interpreter so that he could make a proper presentation in oral argument. However, he failed to point to any evidence he was unable to present to the federal courts. Moreover, the Second Circuit determined that there was no need to hear oral argument on the issue of whether he instructed his attorney to seek the settlement amount he allegedly sought, and it is unclear how plaintiff’s disability interfered with his ability to present his claim in written form or to retain counsel of his choosing. He was also free to hire a private ASL interpreter to communicate with counsel if he believed that it was necessary.”

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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.