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. “