The lesson of Shaofeng Yang v Lao Ma Spicy Inc.  2021 NY Slip Op 31150(U)   April 6, 2021  Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 156063/2019 Judge: Verna Saunders is that a broad release, even in a commercial franchise setting, may eclipse a later legal malpractice suit.

“Plaintiffs assert, in their amended complaint, that this action is for declaratory relief in connection with a restaurant franchise transaction with defendants. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that Huadong Liu, Yaoyu Liu, Hui Chen & Associates, PLLC and Law Offices of Hui
Chen and Associates, P.C. were plaintiffs’ attorneys during the franchise agreement process.
The remaining causes of action in the amended complaint include violation of the New Jersey Franchise Practice Act, N.J.S.A. § 56: 10-1, et seq.; breach of contract; unjust enrichment; conversion; legal malpractice; fraud; and civil conspiracy.

Defendants, Lao Ma Spicy Inc., Lao Ma Inc., Laoma Spicy Elmhurst, Inc., Lao Ma Ma La Tang Incorporated, Tuo Liu (sued herein as Liu Tuo), Huadong Liu and Yaoyu Liu (collectively “Spicy defendants”) move the court pursuant to CPLR 321l(a)(l), (3), (5), and (7) seeking dismissal of the amended complaint. (Motion Sequence 003).
Co-defendants Hui Chen & Associates, PLLC and Law Offices of Hui Chen and Associates, P.C. (attorney defendants) likewise move the court pursuant to CPLR 321 l(a)(l), (3), (5), and (7) seeking dismissal of the amended complaint. (Motion Sequence 004). ”

“Pursuant to the fully executed Termination Agreement and Mutual Release, the parties terminated the Franchise Agreement “for mutual convenience”, releasing all parties, inclusive of employees, agents, successors, assigns, legal representatives, affiliates et cetera, from and against any and all actions claims, suits, demands, payment obligations, or other obligations or liabilities of any nature whether known or unknown. (NYSCEF Doc No 92). The Agreement indicates
that the applicable law will be that of the· State of New York. Based upon the foregoing, the amended complaint is dismissed in its entirety as its causes of action are based upon a Franchise
Agreement which was mutually terminated less than thirty days after the parties entering into same. The fact that the agreement was reduced to writing and executed s.everal months later (in June of2018) is of no moment as the terms of the Termination Agreement and Mutual Release are clear, and thus, claims proffered by plaintiffs that the agreement is unenforceable are unavailing. All remaining arguments not addressed herein are either without merit or need not
be addressed given the findings above.”

 

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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.