Online reviews have taken over the world of attorney retention, and for all but the largest firms, online reviews can be life or death.  Cedeno v Pacelli
2019 NY Slip Op 32631(U) September 4, 2019 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 452016/2018 Judge: Margaret A. Chan is a vivid example of a hideous situation and the aftermath.

“The Pacellis were going through a divorce in 2016. Atesta P retained Cedeno and his firm to represent her in the divorce proceedings. In the course of Cedeno’srepresentation of Atesta P, the professional relationship allegedly strayed into a personal one. In September 2016, Atesta P and Anthony P commenced the related Pacelli action. The Pacellis allege that Cedeno developed a sexual relationship with Atesta while Cedeno and his law firm was counsel to Atesta P and that Cedeno
sexually assaulted Atesta P (NYSCEF # 97). The Pacellis asserted claims against Cedeno and his firm for: breach of fiduciary duty; violation of judiciary law§ 487; sexual battery and assault; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and loss of consortium. In February 2017, Cedeno and his firm filed an answer and a counterclaim for defamation alleging, among other things, that Atesta P falsely stated that Cedeno raped her (NYSCEF # 98, ~~225-230).

In July 2018, Cedeno and his firm initiated the instant Cedeno action against the Pacellis alleging that “the Pacellis authored, created, and published or caused John Does to author, create, or publish over 120 false and defamatory reviews and websites concerning Plaintiffs” (NYSCEF # 132, ~26). Plaintiffs assert claims for: libel; trade libel; aiding and abetting defamation; intentional infliction of emotional  distress (IIED); aiding and abetting IIED; intentional interference with prospective business relations; and vicarious liability. ”

“At the outset, plaintiffs claims for IIED based on the factual allegations
contained in Schedule 1 of the complaint are dismissed, as they are factually duplicative of plaintiffs’ defamation claim (see Akpinar v Moran, 83 AD3d 458, 459[1st Dept 2011]). In any event, the alleged defamatory statements are not “so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency” (Howell v New York Post Co., 81NY2d115, 122 [1993]).”

“Plaintiffs also allege that defendants took harassing actions against
plaintiffs, including posting of. Cedeno’s cell-phone number on a Craigslist ad on Christmas day; reviews specifically mentioning Cedeno’s daughter; and the letter to Cedeno’s wife (Complaint at if91). Those allegations also fail to sufficiently allege conduct so extreme and atrocious as to support a claim for IIED (Howell, 81 NY2d at 122).

Since plaintiffs’ claim for IIED is dismissed, it follows that their claim for
aiding and abetting IIED must also be dismissed. ”

For the full flavor of the online situation, read the full decision.

 

 

 

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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.