Legal malpractice is unique;  this phrase recurs he because claims against attorneys are subjected to a greater scrutiny and are granted a much higher level of latitude.  Consider whether a physician is ever granted a dismissal because the patient is “sophisticated”?

Yet, in  Scarola Malone & Zubatov LLP v Ellner    
2021 NY Slip Op 31199(U), April 8, 2021 Supreme Court, New York County
Docket Number: 651324/2017 Judge: Anthony Cannataro that is what happens.

“Where a sophisticated client imposes a strategic decision on counsel, the client’s action absolves the attorney from liability for malpractice (Town of North Hempstead v Winston & Strawn, LLP, 28 AD3d 746  [2006]; Stolmeier v Fields, 280 AD2d 342 [2001]). Additionally, with regard to strategic decisions “the selection of one among several reasonable courses of action does not constitute malpractice” (Rosner v Paley, 65 NY2d 736, 738 [1985]). “Attorneys may select among reasonable courses of action in prosecuting their clients’ cases without thereby committing malpractice … so that a purported malpractice claim that amounts only to a client’s criticism of counsel’s strategy may be dismissed” (Dweck Law Firm, LLP v Mann, 283 AD2d 292, 293 [2001 ]). Hindsight arguments concerning selection of one of several reasonable courses of action do not state a viable cause of action for malpractice (Brookwood Cos., Inc. v Alston & Bird LLP, 146 AD3d 662, 667 [2017]).

In this case, the Lightbox defendants’ counterclaims stem from the Scarola firm’s representation of them in a business dispute and litigation related to a joint venture agreement between the Lightbox defendants and a nonparty entity named 3rd Home Limited. The counterclaims allege that the Scarola firm made several mistakes during the course of its representation of the Lightbox defendants, specifically: failing to advise the Lightbox defendants to accept a potential buyout from 3rd Home Limited; recommending that the Lightbox defendants litigate in an “uber aggressive” manner rather than advising them to settle, causing the Lightbox defendants to “waste” money on experts; failing to provide the Lightbox defendants with an estimate of future legal fees and expenses; and advising the Lightbox defendants to activate a website, which resulted in their being subject to claims for, among other things, cybersquatting and
trademark infringement.

Lightbox’ s allegations relate primarily to strategic decisions made during the course of the Scarola firm’s representation. Regarding the allegations that the Scarola firm took an overly aggressive approach, the documentary evidence shows that the Lightbox defendants consistently rejected attempts to settle, for reasons having nothing
to do with any advice received from the Scarola firm. While Mr. Ellner occasionally expressed interest in settling with 3rd Home Limited, when he did so, it was his settlement demands that could best be characterized as aggressive, and he rejected actual offers of settlement. Additionally, it is clear from the pleadings that when the
Lightbox defendants retained the Scarola firm, they wanted to “preserve and grow” the joint venture business and were not interested in a buyout.

Mr. Ellner is a sophisticated businessman, with degrees from Wharton and the University of Chicago as well as an impressive business background. The Scarola firm cannot be held liable for failing to counsel the Lightbox defendants regarding an objective that they did not support. There is also no allegation that there was a buyout
or settlement offer that would have been made and accepted but for the Scarola firm’s advice. The damages incurred by loss of a potential buyout are completely speculative (see Heritage Partners, LLC v Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, 133 AD3d 428 [2015] [dismissing legal malpractice claim where damages were based on multiple layers of
speculation]; see also Zarin v Reid & Priest, 184 AD2d 385, 388 [1992] [rejecting a claim for damages which are “too speculative and incapable of being proven with any reasonable certainty”]). As for damages, most of the legal fees charged by the Scarola firm were incurred after the Lightbox defendants decided to reject the 3rd Home Limited’ s settlement offer. “

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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.