Plaintiffs struck out across the board following being “frozen out” of merger negotiations.  In Binn v Muchnick, Golieb & Golieb, P.C. 2020 NY Slip Op 01302 Decided on February 25, 2020 the Appellate Division, First Department found that the minority shareholders knew exactly what was coming their way, and nothing the attorneys did created a greater harm

“Plaintiffs allege that their long-time attorneys, defendants John Golieb, Esq. and Muchnick, Golieb & Golieb, P.C. (together, the Golieb defendants), gave poor advice in connection with a series of transactions in 2014, 2015 and 2016, resulting in the loss of plaintiffs’ majority interest and dilution of their interest in their airport spa business, XpresSpa Holdings, LLC (XpresSpa), as well as other damages. The motion court correctly concluded that documentary evidence, including emails and transaction documents, rendered it “essentially undeniable” that plaintiffs were advised of and/or otherwise understood the terms of the transactions they entered into in 2014 and 2015, as well as their alternative options, if any (see Amsterdam Hospitality Group, LLC v Marshall-Alan Assoc., Inc., 120 AD3d 431, 432 [1st Dept 2014] [internal quotation marks omitted]). Those documents “conclusively establish[] a defense to the asserted claims as a matter of law” (Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 88 [1994]; see CPLR 3211[a][1]).

The court correctly concluded that plaintiffs failed to establish that the Golieb defendants were the proximate cause of any damages in connection with the 2016 vote on the merger of XpresSpa and its acquisition by Form Holdings Corp. Documents show that plaintiff Moreton Binn voted in favor of the merger “under protest,” that he felt “frozen . . . out” of the merger negotiations, and that he received inadequate information from Form Holdings — factors outside of the Golieb defendants’ control. Moreover, in connection with their execution of the Joinder Agreement relating to the merger, plaintiffs retained separate counsel to represent them and the minority shareholders in evaluating the voluminous merger and acquisition documents by reviewing the documents and summarizing their terms for the minority shareholders. Thus, separate counsel was an intervening and superseding cause of any damages (see Boye v Rubin & Bailin, LLP, 152 AD3d 1, 10 [1st Dept 2017]).

The court correctly dismissed the legal malpractice claim against defendants DLA Piper LLP (US) (DLA) and Sidney Burke (collectively, the DLA defendants), counsel for Mistral Equity Partners (Mistral), an investor in plaintiffs’ business, and its related entities, including Mistral XH, which facilitated the 2016 merger. Plaintiffs do not dispute that there was no attorney-client relationship, and, contrary to their contentions, there is no near privity to support a claim of legal malpractice (see e.g. Federal Ins. Co. v North Am. Specialty Ins. Co., 47 AD3d 52, 60-61 [1st Dept 2007]). Nor is any other ground for a legal malpractice claim alleged (see Good [*2]Old Days Tavern v Zwirn, 259 AD2d 300 [1st Dept 1999]). Plaintiffs signed the 2016 Joinder Agreement, dated October 28, 2016, which acknowledges that “DLA Piper LLP (US) is not representing and will not represent any Member … other than the Mistral Vehicles” in connection with the Joinder Agreement or other transaction documents.”

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
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.