Real estate is a major contributor to the legal malpractice oeuvre.  Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v Pickett 2020 NY Slip Op 05795 [187 AD3d 965] October 14, 2020 Appellate Division, Second Department is an interesting example of a conflict of interest and the AD’s suggestion that a legal malpractice case might be appropriate.

“The defendant Lauren L. Pickett (hereinafter the defendant) was the owner of a condominium unit located in Brooklyn. In July 2013, the plaintiff commenced this action against, among others, the defendant and 39 Pierrepont Condominium (hereinafter the Condominium) to foreclose a mortgage given by the defendant encumbering the subject premises. The Condominium cross-claimed against the defendant to foreclose a lien it held for nonpayment of common charges. The defendant retained nonparty David H. Perlman to represent her in the foreclosure action. On September 19, 2016, a judgment of foreclosure and sale was entered in favor of the Condominium, directing that the premises be sold at a public auction. Perlman subsequently filed a bankruptcy petition on behalf of the defendant; however, the petition was dismissed due to the failure to file the required schedules.

On December 7, 2017, the same date that the auction sale was noticed to be held, the Supreme Court declined to sign an order to show cause filed by Perlman on behalf of the defendant seeking to stay the foreclosure sale. A referee conducted a foreclosure sale on that date. The highest bidder at the auction bid $2 million, but that bid was rejected since the bidder did not intend to reside at the premises, as required under the terms of sale. The second highest bidder at the auction was Perlman, with a bid of $1.97 million. However, he declined to proceed with the purchase of the premises. The referee reopened the auction for bidding, and Perlman was the successful bidder with a bid of $1.6 million. Thereafter, the defendant moved, inter alia, to vacate the foreclosure sale and to impose sanctions against Perlman. In an order dated February 13, 2018, the court denied those branches of the defendant’s motion. The defendant appeals.”

“Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have granted that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to vacate the foreclosure sale of the subject premises.

Contrary to the defendant’s contention, however, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in denying that branch of her motion which was to impose sanctions against Perlman. Although Perlman’s conduct may give rise to a cause of action to recover damages for legal malpractice, it was not frivolous within the meaning of 22 NYCRR 130.1-1 (see 22 NYCRR 130-1.1 [c]; see generally Youcheng Wu v Jian Xu, 137 AD3d 1016, 1016 [2016]). Dillon, J.P., Chambers, Cohen and Duffy, JJ., concur.”

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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.