Departure, Proximate Cause and Ascertainable Damages are the holy triumvirate of legal malpractice.  Miami Capital, LLC v Hurwitz  2019 NY Slip Op 05332  Decided on July 2, 2019
Appellate Division, First Department illustrates what happens when one or more of these elements are missing, or at best, speculative.

“Defendant’s motion was properly granted because while plaintiff anticipates that it could be subject to a rescission claim at some point in the future, such alleged damages are purely speculative and not yet ripe. Since damages in a legal malpractice case are designed “to make the injured client whole” (Campagnola v Mulholland, Minion & Roe, 76 NY2d 38, 42 [1990]), having failed to plead actual damages, plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim (see Heritage Partners, LLC v Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, 133 AD3d 428 [1st Dept 2015], lv denied 27 NY3d 904 [2016]; Lavanant v General Acc. Ins. Co. of Am., 212 AD2d 450 [1st Dept 1995]).

Plaintiff has also failed to establish defendant’s negligence by alleging that he did not exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession (see O’Callaghan v Brunelle, 84 AD3d 581 [1st Dept 2011], lv denied 18 NY3d 804 [2012]). The contract of sale placed the burden on the seller to obtain any necessary court approval for the sale of its property. As seller’s counsel advised defendant that the seller did not need court approval because the property was not “substantially all” of its assets (see N-PCL 510), plaintiff has not adequately pled that defendant breached his duty of care as its lawyer by not obtaining court approval for the sale.”

 

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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.