Trundle v Garr Silpe, P.C. 2020 NY Slip Op 34233(U) December 18, 2020
Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 159437/2019
Judge: Lucy Billings is an example of big-number financial transactions and the potential culpability for large losses.  Plaintiff alleged that defendant attorneys negligently handled his wife’s trusteeship of a pension plan, with large losses.

“Plaintiff’s identified primary goal was removing his wife as the trustee and administrator of his corporation’s pension plan. Plaintiff alleges that defendant’s lack of efforts to pursue this requested objective required him to pay a separate law firm additional attorney fees, totaling $150,000.”

“Accepting plaintiff’s allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor, as required upon defendant’s motioh pursuant to C.P.L.R. §3211(a) (7), plaintiff shows how defendant’s negligence adversely affected him in the divorce action and caused him actual financial damages.

Not all plaintiff’s claimed damages, however, are attributable to defendant’s negligence. First, the $150,000.00 paid to a separate law firm is not attributable to defendant’s negligence because plaintiff would have paid an attorney to close the pension fund regardless whether the attorney was defendant or a new attorney, Brookwood Cos .. Inc. v. Alston & Bird LLP, 146 A.D.3d at 666-67; Cohen v. Hack; 118 A.D.3d 460, 460 (1st Dep’t 2014); Cohen v. Kachroo, 115 A.D.3d at 513, unless plaintiff shows that, due to defendant’s conduct, he paid more fees to his new attorney than he would have paid to defendant. Exeter Law Group LLP v. Immortalana Inc., 158 A.D.3d 576, 577 (1st Dep’t 2018); Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. v. Morrison & Foerster LLP, 157 A.D.3d 456, 457 (1st Dep’t 2018); Garnett v. Fox. Horan. & Camerini. LLP, 82 A.D.3d 435, 436 (1st Dep’t 2011). Second, as plaintiff alleges that his wife began misappropriating funds in 2003, and he retained defendant for the divbrce action in 2014, any of her misappropriations totalling the $400,000 and $500,000 alleged amounts before 2014 are not attributable to defendant. Knox v. Aronson, Mayefsky & Sloan, LLP, 168 A.D.3d at 75; Brenner v. Reiss Eisenpress, LLP, 155 A.D.3d at 438. ”

“Finally, plaintiff’s allegations that defendant unilaterally and unnecessarily conceded $205,000 when negotiating the closure
of the pension plan state a claim for legal malpractice., Roth v.
Ostrer, 161 A. D-. 3d 433 I 434 (1st Dep’ t 2018) . In support of this
claim, plaintiff alleges that the pension plan’s closure did not
require his wife’s agreement, so that defendant’s concession of
the $205,000 value of an insurance policy in exchange for her
agreement regarding the closure was an unnecessary compromise, a
claim to which defendant does not even respond. “

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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.