Architects, similar to attorneys, can be liable for general torts as well as breach of contract.  For the most part, it’s one or the other.  In Junger v John V. Dinan Assoc., Inc.  2018 NY Slip Op 06232 [164 AD3d 1428]  September 26, 2018  Appellate Division, Second Department we see how the claims are evaluated.

” The plaintiffs commenced this action alleging breach of contract, breach of duty,  rofessional negligence, and fraud against the architects who prepared plans in connection with the  construction of the plaintiff Mark Junger’s personal residence located in Monsey. The defendants John V. Dinan Associates, Inc. (hereinafter Dinan), and Stephen C. Leventis Architect (hereinafter [*2]Leventis; hereinafter together the Dinan defendants), moved, and the defendants Jada Construction & Development, Inc., and Jada Construction, Inc. hereinafter together the Jada defendants), separately moved, inter alia, for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against them.

A party moving for summary judgment must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, offering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any triable issue of fact (see Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]; Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 NY2d 557, 562 [1980]). Failure to make that initial showing requires denial of the motion, regardless of the sufficiency of the opposition papers (see Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Ctr., 64 NY2d 851 [1985]; St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hosp. v American Tr. Ins. Co., 274 AD2d 511 [2000]; Greenberg v Manlon Realty, 43 AD2d 968 [1974]).

We disagree with the Supreme Court’s determination granting that branch of the Dinan defendants’ motion which was for summary judgment dismissing the cause of action alleging professional negligence insofar as asserted against them. The Dinan defendants failed to demonstrate their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law because they did not submit evidence that the architectural plans and designs were proper, conformed to applicable professional standards, and did not deviate from the design as intended (see Kung v Zheng, 73 AD3d 862, 863 [2010]). The Dinan defendants also failed to offer evidence demonstrating that their plans and designs were not used to construct the residence. Since the Dinan defendants failed to meet their prima facie burden, we need not consider the sufficiency of the plaintiffs’ papers in opposition to this branch of their motion (see Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Ctr., 64 NY2d at 853).

However, we agree with the Supreme Court’s determination granting those branches of the Dinan defendants’ motion which were for summary judgment dismissing the causes of action alleging breach of duty and fraud insofar as asserted against them. The cause of action alleging breach of duty was duplicative of the cause of action alleging professional negligence. Moreover, the plaintiffs’ allegations supporting the cause of action to recover damages for fraud lacked the requisite specificity (see Orchid Constr. Corp. v Gonzalez, 89 AD3d 705, 707-708 [2011]; Morales v AMS Mtge. Servs., Inc., 69 AD3d 691, 692 [2010]). “Generally, a cause of action alleging breach of contract may not be converted to one for fraud merely with an allegation that the contracting party did not intend to meet its contractual obligations” (Refreshment Mgt. Servs., Corp. v Complete Off. Supply Warehouse Corp., 89 AD3d 913, 914 [2011]; see New York Univ. v Continental Ins. Co., 87 NY2d 308, 318 [1995]).”

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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.