United States Life Ins. Co. in the City of N.Y. v Horowitz  2021 NY Slip Op 01877 [192 AD3d 613] March 25, 2021 Appellate Division, First Department os the rare case in which the Appellate Division soundingly finds that a Judiciary Law § 487 claim is stated.

“Judiciary Law § 487 (1) provides that an attorney who is “guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party . . . [i]s guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment prescribed therefor by the penal law, he forfeits to the party injured treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.” Judiciary Law § 487 does not require a showing of detrimental reliance (see Bill Birds, Inc. v Stein Law Firm, P.C., 35 NY3d 173, 178 [2020]). Contrary to the holding in Blum v Perlstein (47 AD3d 741 [2d Dept 2008]) which cited to this Court’s decisions in Berkowitz v Fischbein, Badillo, Wagner & Harding (7 AD3d 385 [1st Dept 2004]) and Argyle Capital Mgt. Corp. v Lowenthal, Landau, Fischer & Bring (261 AD2d 282 [1st Dept 1999]), none of which dealt with a violation of Judiciary Law § 487, a decision we decline to follow because Judiciary Law § 487 is a statute that has its origins in the penal law and its “intent [is] to enforce an attorney’s special obligation to protect the integrity of the courts and foster their truth-seeking function” (Amalfitano v Rosenberg, 12 NY3d 8, 14 [2009]), here, the release did not bar plaintiff’s claim under Judiciary Law § 487 (see Schindler v Issler & Schrage, 262 AD2d 226, 228-229 [1st Dept 1999] [allowing claim based on violation of Judiciary Law § 487 to proceed despite settlement of the underlying action]). Here, the deceit and collusion were in obtaining the settlement and release. Plaintiff’s [*2]claim alleges deceitful conduct in the Kings County action where the attorney-defendants purportedly bribed a nonparty witness (by giving him cash and a Rolex watch) to make false statements that they later presented to plaintiff to exact a favorable settlement and obtain a release. Furthermore, the release covers only claims that could have been asserted in connection with the policy and those claims that were known to it at the time. Since it is alleged that the attorney defendants violated Judiciary Law § 487, and engaged in a separate fraud from the subject of the release (Centro Empresarial Cempresa S.A. v América Móvil, S.A.B. de C.V., 17 NY3d 269, 276 [2011]), the motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims against the attorney defendants for violation of Judiciary Law § 487 (1) was properly denied. Concur—Manzanet-Daniels, J.P., Mazzarelli, Mendez, Shulman, JJ. “

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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.