Hall v Hobbick 2021 NY Slip Op 01398 Decided on March 10, 2021 Appellate Division, Second Department illustrates the principle that no written retainer agreement is necessary for the formation of an attorney-client relationship.
“The Supreme Court erred in granting that branch of the third-party defendants’ motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(1) and (7) to dismiss so much of the first cause of action as sought compensatory damages for legal malpractice in connection with the purchase of the Brooklyn property. Contrary to the third-party defendants’ contention, their submission of a retainer agreement between themselves and Hall failed to conclusively establish that no attorney-client relationship existed between the third-party defendants and Hobbick with respect to the purchase of the Brooklyn property by Hall and Hobbick (see CPLR 3211[a]). “[A]n attorney-client relationship does not depend on the existence of a formal retainer agreement” (Moran v Hurst, 32 AD3d 909, 911). Furthermore, the third-party complaint sufficiently alleged the existence of an attorney-client relationship between Hobbick and the third-party defendants, as well as the other elements of legal malpractice, including damages, which “may include litigation expenses incurred in an attempt to avoid, minimize, or reduce the damage caused by the attorney’s” negligence (Rudolf v Shayne, Dachs, Stanisci, Corker & Sauer, 8 NY3d 438, 443 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Mawere v Landau, 130 AD3d at 990). Accordingly, the Supreme Court should not have granted that branch of the third-party defendants’ motion which was to dismiss so much of the first cause of action as sought to recover compensatory damages for legal malpractice.”