DeMartino v Harris  2018 NY Slip Op 08278  Decided on December 5, 2018 Appellate Division, Second Department stands for the proposition that if a case is flawed in its service, it remains flawed throughout.  Here, service was demonstrably no good.  Nothing further good could save the case.

“The plaintiffs commenced this action against the defendant, their former counsel, inter alia, to recover damages for legal malpractice in connection with legal representation provided to them by the defendant years earlier. The affidavit of service in the action characterized the defendant as a domestic corporation and recited that service had been made by leaving the summons and complaint with the defendant’s representative at the defendant’s office address.

When the defendant did not respond to the complaint, the plaintiffs moved for leave to enter a default judgment against the defendant. Thereafter, the defendant cross-moved, inter alia, to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, contending that the method of service was improper because the defendant was not a corporation. The plaintiffs subsequently moved for leave to amend their complaint. The Supreme Court granted that branch of the defendant’s cross motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a) to dismiss the complaint, concluding that service was not properly made, and denied the plaintiffs’ motions. The plaintiffs appeal.

While the method of service employed by the plaintiffs in this action is authorized for the service of process upon a corporation (see CPLR 311[a][1]; Fashion Page v Zurich Ins. Co., 50 NY2d 265, 271; Lakeside Concrete Corp. v Pine Hollow Bldg. Corp., 104 AD2d 551, 551-552, affd 65 NY2d 865), the evidence submitted by the defendant in support of the cross motion to dismiss established that the defendant is not a corporation. Accordingly, the method of service employed by the plaintiffs failed to acquire personal jurisdiction over the defendant, and we agree with the Supreme Court’s determination granting that branch of the defendant’s cross motion which was to dismiss the complaint on that basis.

Furthermore, while CPLR 306-b permits a court, in the exercise of its discretion, to [*2]extend the time to serve process upon good cause shown or in the interest of justice (see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d 95, 101), the plaintiffs did not move for, or otherwise request, an extension in the Supreme Court (see Lehman v North Greenwich Landscaping, LLC, 65 AD3d 1293, 1295; Matter of Saltzman v Board of Appeals of Vil. of Roslyn, 26 AD3d 505, 505-506).”

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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 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.