People often ask attorneys whether they have any celebrity clients?  Here, in Carter v Sweeney  2021 NY Slip Op 31261(U) April 16, 2021
Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 151067/2019
Judge: James E. d’Auguste Lil Wayne asks for 13 years of legal fees to be returned to him.  He is generally unsuccessful.

“This action arises after the end of a 13-year relationship, in which defendant Ronald Sweeney (Sweeney, or Defendant) acted as the transactional attorney for plaintiff Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., p/k/a Lil Wayne (Carter). The relationship ended when Carter fired Sweeney
on September 18, 2018. Now, Carter brings this action, seeking to recoup the legal fees that he paid Sweeney throughout those 13 years.  Defendants move to dismiss the first amended complaint (Complaint).”

The Complaint, which seeks, among other, nonmonetary, relief, the recovery of all the  legal fees that Carter payed Sweeney in the course of 13 years, alleges the following 10 causes of action: (1) fraudulent inducement, (2) legal malpractice, (3) breach of fiduciary duty, (4) unjust enrichment, against both defendants, (5) violation of California Business and Professional Code § 6147, (6) violation of California  Business and Professional Code § 6148, (7) violation of California Business and Professional Code §§17200-17219, (8) violation of N.Y. General Business Law (GBL) §349, against both defendants, (9) violation of N.Y. Judiciary Law § 487, against both defendants, and (10) a request for a declaratory judgment.”

“It is established that a plaintiff alleging legal malpractice must show that such malpractice “proximately caused actual and ascertainable damages.” Rudolph v Shayne, Dachs, Stanisci, Corker &Sauer, 8 NY3d 438, 443 (2007). The Complaint, instead, alleges the same $20,000,000 in damages that it alleges with regard to multiple other causes of action. It is also established that, in order to make a prima facie case of legal malpractice, the plaintiff must show that he or she would have prevailed in underlying litigation, but for the attorney’s negligence.
Davis v Klein, 88 NY2d 1008, 1009-1010 (1996); Schorsch v Moses & Singer, L.L.P., 60 AD3d 557, 557 (1st Dept 2009). The Complaint alleges that, when Carter and one of his companies were sued by their New York litigation counsel over their nonpayment of legal fees, Sweeney
negotiated a settlement for Carter, but, after Carter failed to pay the negotiated sum, and a second action was commenced to recover the fees, Sweeney, although notified of that action, negligently failed to act, thereby allowing the New York firm to obtain a default judgment “for hundreds of thousands of dollars.” These allegations fail to specify “ascertainable damages,” Rudolph at 443, and it is no more than “an insufficient speculation” (Rodriguez v Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P,C., 81 AD3d 551, 557 [1st Dept 2011]) that Carter, who had failed to pay his New York counsel, and then failed to pay a settlement of that counsel’s claim, would have prevailed in that counsel’s subsequent suit.

For the rest, this claim repeats many of the allegations raised in the first cause of action and, inexplicably, faults Sweeney for “breaching his duty of care by his advice concerning the California litigation firm’s written contingency fee agreement.” NYSCEF Doc, No. 5, ¶94. The
Complaint discloses that “[i]n March 2018, the California litigation firm negotiated a settlement of [two matters] . . . which required certain payments to Carter and [his record label]. NYSCEF Doc. No. 5, ¶ 60. If Carter was dissatisfied with that settlement, he fails to explain either why he was dissatisfied, or how Sweeney might have been at fault, in connection with the matter. “

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
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.