Gobindram v Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C., 2019 NY Slip Op 06190
Decided on August 21, 2019  Appellate Division, Second Department stand for the proposition that when an attorney has a second chance to correct mistakes and fails to do so, a claim for legal malpractice may be good.

“The defendants represented the plaintiff in connection with his filing of a voluntary bankruptcy petition in federal court in August 2011. Although the Statement of Financial Affairs (hereinafter SOFA) form appended to the petition called for the disclosure of recent payments to creditors and insiders, the plaintiff failed to report such payments he made to creditors and to his wife from 2010 tax refunds he had received in May and June 2011. Rather, the SOFA indicated that no such payments were made. The plaintiff’s signature on the SOFA was preceded by the following statement: “I declare under penalty of perjury that I have read the answers contained in the foregoing statement of financial affairs and any attachments thereto and that they are true and correct.” Shortly after the commencement of the proceeding, the bankruptcy trustee requested an accounting of the transfers that had disposed of the plaintiff’s 2010 tax refunds, and the omissions in the SOFA then came to light. In November 2011, two of the plaintiff’s major creditors commenced an adversary proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court, contending that the plaintiff should be denied a discharge in bankruptcy based on his misrepresentations in the SOFA relating to the disposition of the 2010 tax refunds. In his defense, the plaintiff argued that the defendants had prepared the bankruptcy submissions and he had relied on them to do so accurately.

At the ensuing trial in the adversary proceeding, the defendants admitted that they had been aware of the plaintiff’s transfers of his 2010 tax refunds at the time they prepared the bankruptcy petition and had erroneously checked boxes marked “none” where the SOFA called for their disclosure. The plaintiff admitted that the defendants had provided him with a copy of the draft petition to review before they filed it and that he had represented to them that he had read it and that it was accurate, and that he had signed the verification line of the petition declaring that it was true and correct despite the fact that he had not actually read the petition in its entirety before signing.”

“However, we disagree with the Supreme Court’s determination granting that branch of the defendants’ motion which was to dismiss so much of the legal malpractice cause of action as sought to recover damages for the defendants’ failure to amend the bankruptcy petition. The findings of the federal courts regarding the knowing and fraudulent conduct on the plaintiff’s part related solely to the initial filing; they made no determination that the plaintiff acted knowingly and fraudulently in failing to file an amended petition. Accordingly, that part of the plaintiff’s legal malpractice cause of action is not subject to dismissal on the grounds of collateral estoppel and in pari delicto.

As an alternative ground for affirmance (see Parochial Bus Sys. v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y., 60 NY2d 539, 545-546), the defendants contend that the legal malpractice cause of action should have been dismissed in its entirety pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7), since the parties’ evidentiary submissions on the motion established that the plaintiff hired subsequent counsel who had ample opportunity to rectify their alleged error in this regard (see e.g. Perks v Lauto & Garabedian, 306 AD2d 261, 262). This contention lacks merit.”

 

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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.