In Markov v Barrows 2020 NY Slip Op 31010(U) April 20, 2020 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: Index No. 158043/2019 decided by Judge Margaret A. Chan we see a well-written explanation of the tension between a departure from good practice (failing to name a party) and the requirement that the “but for” showing demonstrate that had the party been named, there would have been a good case against it.

“This action arises out of defendant Michael Barrows, Esq.’s representation of plaintiff Dmitry Markov d/b/a Dmitry Markov Coins & Medals in an underlying action, Markov v Spectrum Group Intern., Inc. (2015 NY Slip Op 30054[U] [Sup Ct, NY County 2015]). Plaintiff retained Barrows to pursue a claim against the seller of a Russian medal, known as a Russian Military Order (the Medal). Plaintiff alleged that at an auction on January 14, 2008, the seller misrepresented that the Medal was encrusted with diamonds, and in reliance thereon, plaintiff purchased the Medal. Plaintiff subsequently learned that the Medal was, in fact, not encrusted “with diamonds. ”

“In the instant matter, plaintiff alleges that Barrows was aware that Stacks was the proper defendant prior to filing the complaint in the underlying action but failed to timely add Stacks as a defendant and negligently relied on CPLR 1024 (NYSCEF # 16 – Complaint, ¶¶ 27-30, 62). Plaintiff also alleges that on December 27, 2013, he informed Barrows by email that Stacks was the proper defendant, but that Barrows failed to amend the complaint as of right, despite the opportunity to do so (id., ¶¶ 31-34). ”

“Defendants’ second argument is on the sufficiency of the complaint.Defendants point out that while the gravamen of plaintiff’s complaint is tha tdefendants failed to timely name Stacks as a defendant in the underlying action,the complaint is devoid of any specific factual allegations that plaintiff would have been successful in the underlying action “but for” defendants’ negligence (Magassouba v Cascione, 178 AD3d 509, 509 [1st Dept 2019]; Salans LLP v VBH Properties SRL, 171 AD3d 460, 461 [1st Dept 2019]).

The complaint contains multiple paragraphs on Barrow’s failure to timely add Stacks as a defendant in the underlying action. The complaint’s only mention that could be framed as an allegation that plaintiff would have been successful but for Barrow’s negligence is that the fraud and misrepresentation claims were not dismissed in the order dated January 14, 2015. But even with a generous reading of that “allegation”, the success attributable to plaintiff is limited to only that dismissal motion (NYSCEF # 34 at 6). Absent a showing that “but for” the attorney’s conduct, plaintiff would have prevailed in the underlying matter, plaintiff’s cause of action for legal malpractice against defendant Barrows cannot be sustained.

Defendants urge this court to bar plaintiff from alleging that Barrows was aware that Stacks was the proper defendant prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations in the underlying case because of an admission made by plaintiff. This request is superfluous given the above finding dismissing the legal malpractice claim against Barrows. In any event, it would be denied because the admission was in plaintiff’s affidavit, which was prepared at the time Barrows was representing plaintiff (NYSCEF # 21). And the affidavit was contradicted by an email of December 27, 2013, in which plaintiff alerted Barrows to Stack as the proper defendant (NYSCEF # 32).”

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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.