Kasowitz, Benson, Torres LLP v Cabrera    2019 NY Slip Op 32738(U)  September 13, 2019 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 157367/2018 Judge: O. Peter Sherwood is the story of a $ 33 Million real estate transaction gone bad.  Then, to make things worse for plaintiff, all the attorneys get the statute of limitations wrong.  In the end, nothing works.

“In or around October 2011, Cabrera and Matthew Karp  (“Karp”) of aribbean Propey Group ( “CPG”)began discussing a potential purchase of the property by CPG or a potential joint venture with the Barza parties. To facilitate the process. CPG and Barza entered into an agreement for the exchange of confidential information “solely for the purpose of determining ” whether or not to proceed with the Transaction” (‘”CPG Agreement”). Cabrera provident all documents sought by CPG.”

In September 2011 Cabrera retained attorney Stephen B. Meister (“Meister”) of Meister Seelig & Fein LLP (“Meister Seelig”) “to represent him and his affiliates in a dispute with the Caribbian Property  Group … and its affiliates relating to undeveloped acreage in Puerto Rico.” Meister contacted the COO and Principal of CPG. a personal acquaintantance. and confirmed that CPG had no future intention to pruchase the Property but would be willing to consider paying a
settlement sum. Meister expressed to Cabrera that Barza had viable: claimns and agreed to send CPG a demand letter detailing those claims. Meister never sent the demand letter he took no other action
to pursue the claims and failed  to take reasonable steps necessary to preserve the tort claims prior  to the exipiration of the applicable statute of limitations.

ln April 2015. the Barza parties began discussing its cliams with attorney Jennifer Recine of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP ( “Kasowitz”). Between April 27. 2015 and June 15.  2015 sent a number of documents to Kasowitz as requested in order to evaluate the claims.”

“After Meister argued that the claims were time-barred, Kasowitz filed an amended complaint alleging that Kasowitz had not received Meister’s billing records until November 10, 2014 and that those records were necessary to determine whether meister did the work he was retained to do.”

” The Court ultimately dismissed the claims against Meister as time-barred.”

“The malpractice claim should be dismissed because, in light of Barza’s admission Barza cannot allege causation. The Barza defendants alleged in both the verified complaint in the Meister action, and in the counterclaims to this action that any claims that they would have had against CPG expired on February 14, 2014.  The Kasowitz firm was not retained until June 22, 2015”

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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.