Personal injury claims that a person might have can become the property of the Bankruptcy estate.  It is a tricky question depending on whether the bankruptcy case is in Chapter 7, 11 or 13.  Pre-Petition claims are different from post-petition claims, yet they all came together in Horvath v Budin, Reisman, Kupferberg & Bernstein  LLP 2021 NY Slip Op 30105(U)
January 13, 2021 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 161339/2019 Judge: David Benjamin Cohen.

“In 2009, plaintiff filed a Chapter 13 Petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey (“the Bankruptcy Court”) under Case No. 09-38537-KCF. Doc. 22. Plaintiff was represented in the bankruptcy proceeding by Jules Rossi, Esq. Doc. 22. On September 15, 2010, plaintiff was allegedly injured while he was a passenger in an elevator in a building in Manhattan. Doc. 21 at par. 4. Plaintiff thereafter retained the Law Offices of Michael Lamonsoff (“Lamonsoff’) to commence a personal injury action on his behalf against Gumley Haft Kleier Inc. (“GHK”) and Eltech Industries (“Eltech”). The action against GHK and Eltech was commenced in the Supreme Court, Bronx County in 2010 under Index Number 310013/10 (“the Bronx County action”). Doc. 17 at par. 16. Lamonsoff also represented plaintiff in an unrelated personal injury action commenced in New York County in 2010 under Index Number 115395/10 (“the New York County action”). Doc. 17 at par. 17.
The Bankruptcy Court confirmed the Chapter 13 plan on December 28, 2011. Doc. 23. ”

“In 2014, Eltech moved to dismiss the complaint in the Bronx County action based on the pending bankruptcy matter. Doc. 17 at par. 26. By order dated December 2, 2014, the Supreme Court, Bronx County denied the motion to dismiss. Doc. 26. By order dated March 7, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department reversed and dismissed the complaint in the Bronx County action, stating, inter alia, that:

Plaintiffs prolonged failure to disclose this lawsuit to the Bankruptcy Court renders him judicially estopped from pursuing it … Plaintiff took an inconsistent position in the bankruptcy proceedings – that he did not have other legal claims than those listed on his schedule of assets and liabilities – and that position was adopted by the Bankruptcy Court when it confirmed the plan.”

“Here, as noted above, plaintiff claims that defendant’s actions, or inaction, regarding his bankruptcy resulted in the dismissal of the Bronx County action. Specifically, he alleges that: Defendant BUDIN, REISMAN, KUPFERBERG & BERSTEIN, LLP committed legal malpractice by failing to exercise that degree of care, skill and diligence commonly possessed by a member of the legal community. Doc. 21 at par. 60.
Plaintiff also alleges that he would have succeeded on his claim in the Bronx County action “but for the defendant’s negligence and legal malpractice.” Doc. 21 at pars. 62, 78. Further, plaintiff alleges that he sustained damages as a result of defendant’s negligence. Docs. 69, 82.
Since the complaint, viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, pleads a viable claim sounding in legal malpractice, that branch of defendant’s motion seeking dismissal pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) is denied.”

 

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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.