Lewis v Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price Hecht LLP  2021 NY Slip Op 03911
Decided on June 17, 2021 Appellate Division, First Department shows the high bar for a Judiciary Law § 487 claim.  “Troubling” is just not enough.

“The alleged statements made by defendant Conley in the course of litigation are immune from liability for defamation based on an absolute privilege (see Front, Inc. v Khalil, 24 NY3d 713, 718 [2015]). Plaintiff failed to show that these statements, made in a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s initial New York complaint and after litigation had commenced, were “material and pertinent to the questions involved” in the litigation (id. [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Flomenhaft v Finkelstein (127 AD3d 634, 637 [1st Dept 2015] [test of pertinence is “extremely liberal”] [internal quotation marks omitted]). Conley’s alleged pre-litigation statements are protected by a qualified privilege (see id. 719-720 [2015]). Plaintiff failed to show that Conley did not have a good-faith basis for anticipating that litigation was bound to occur (id. at 720). Accordingly, plaintiff’s aiding and abetting defamation claim was properly dismissed.

Plaintiff’s prima facie tort claim was also properly dismissed. The vague allegation that plaintiff sustained “irreparable harm” to his reputation and career is insufficient to allege the requisite special damages so as to assert a prima facie tort claim (Freihofer v Hearst Corp., 65 NY2d 135, 143 [1985]). Similarly, dismissal of the Judiciary Law § 487 claim was appropriate. While counsel’s communications and statements surrounding the withdrawal of the action filed in New York, which we assume to be true on a CPLR 3211 (a)(7) motion, and defendants’ subsequent reliance on said withdrawal in a California action, are troubling, the complaint fails to allege damages proximately caused by the alleged deceit (see Doscher v Mannatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, 148 AD3d 523, 524 [1st Dept 2017]).”

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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.