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. “