Flintlock Constr. Servs., LLC v Rubin, Fiorella & Friedman, LLP 2020 NY Slip Op 06711 Decided on November 17, 2020 Appellate Division, First Department seems to be a case that could have been won, it it had been brought in 2016 rather than in 2018.
“Plaintiff, a general contractor, entered into a construction agreement with nonparty Well-Come Holdings, Inc. to perform construction and excavation work on property owned by Well-Come. In 2004 an adjacent property owner commenced an action against Well-Come and plaintiff alleging that the excavation work had damaged its property. In 2006 Well-Come commenced a declaratory judgment action against plaintiff and its insurer. Defendant, as counsel for plaintiff, allegedly without plaintiff’s knowledge and consent, stipulated with Well-Come’s counsel that plaintiff and its insurer would jointly defend and indemnify Well-Come for all damages in connection with the project, including those that plaintiff claimed were caused by Well-Come’s own negligence. In 2007 defendant entered into a second stipulation, allegedly without plaintiff’s knowledge and consent, discontinuing the declaratory judgment action brought by Well-Come as against plaintiff and agreeing that plaintiff alone would defend and indemnify Well-Come (the 2007 stipulation). On July 29, 2013, a jury rendered a verdict as to damages against Well-Come and plaintiff, and on September 5, 2018, after five years of posttrial proceedings, a money judgment was entered against them jointly.
Plaintiff commenced this action on September 17, 2018, alleging that defendant committed legal malpractice by entering into the stipulations. Plaintiff alleges that entering into the 2007 stipulation, which shifted the responsibility for Well-Come’s defense from plaintiff’s insurer to plaintiff alone, was professional negligence. In December 2018 defendant moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(5). The motion court ruled that the complaint was time-barred because the statute of limitations had begun to run on July 29, 2013, the date on which the jury rendered its verdict, which was the date on which plaintiff’s damages were reasonably calculable. We affirm.”
“”An action to recover damages for an attorney’s malpractice must be commenced within three years from accrual (see CPLR § 214). A legal malpractice claim accrues when all the facts necessary to the cause of action have occurred and an injured party can obtain relief in court. In most cases, this accrual time is measured from the day an actionable injury occurs [or when the damages are sufficiently calculable], even if the aggrieved party is then ignorant of the wrong or injury.” (McCoy v v. Feinman, 99 NY2d 295, 301  [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]; King Tower Realty Corp. v G & G Funding Corp., 163 AD3d 541 [2d Dept. 2018]).”