Plaintiffs often wonder how their damages are computed. One possible element of damages are the legal fees spent in defense of the underlying case. This is the central lesson of Rudolph v. Shayne Dachs and it is the less of 83 Willow, LLC v Apollo 2020 NY Slip Op 05843 [187 AD3d 563] October 20, 2020 Appellate Division, First Department as well.
“For purposes of the motion, defendant does not dispute that his alleged failure to advise plaintiff of the consequences of a contingency clause in its contract to sell property was negligent, but contends that plaintiff cannot demonstrate that his negligence was the “but for” causation of ascertainable damages. On this record, triable issues of fact exist as to whether, but for defendant’s failure to inform plaintiff’s principal that it could be locked into the sale agreement in perpetuity if it did not obtain municipal approval for redevelopment, it would not have entered into the contract as written and would have avoided litigation with the buyer who sued for specific performance (see Leggiadro, Ltd. v Winston & Strawn, LLP, 151 AD3d 413 [1st Dept 2017]; Escape Airports [USA], Inc. v Kent, Beatty & Gordon, LLP, 79 AD3d 437, 438-439 [1st Dept 2010]). Plaintiff’s alleged damages, as they relate to legal expenses defending the specific performance action, may be found to be proximately related to defendant’s negligent advice related to the issue of the contingency clause (see Rudolf v Shayne, Dachs, Stanisci, Corker & Sauer, 8 NY3d at 443).”