Judiciary Law 487 is the ancient deceit statute concerning attorneys.  It is not “lightly given” and remains a rarely successful remedy.  Lavelle-Tomko v Aswad & Ingraham  2021 NY Slip Op 01112 [191 AD3d 1142]
February 18, 2021 Appellate Division, Third Department is an example.

“After plaintiff was terminated by her former employer (hereinafter Century 21) from her position as a real estate agent in 2004, she allegedly used her access to Century 21’s voicemail to steal business, among other things. Century 21’s owners, Thomas A. Sbarra and Deborah J. Sbarra, discovered plaintiff’s activity in 2007 and commenced a civil action against her (hereinafter the first action). The Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services Enforcement Unit (hereinafter the Department) then began an investigation into plaintiff’s conduct. Plaintiff hired defendant Richard N. Aswad and his law firm, defendant Aswad & Ingraham (hereinafter A&I), to represent her in the first action, signing a letter of engagement on July 27, 2007 and providing A&I a retainer. Aswad represented plaintiff in the negotiation of a settlement agreement with Century 21 and the Sbarras, which was executed on August 19, 2007. The settlement agreement required plaintiff to, among other things, surrender her real estate license to the Department and cease working as a real estate agent or broker by September 1, 2007. Aswad timely delivered plaintiff’s license to the Department. Pursuant to plaintiff’s request to cancel her retainer agreements, on October 8, 2007, A&I sent plaintiff the balance of her retainer. In March 2008, after some negotiation involving Aswad and other attorneys, plaintiff’s license surrender was accepted by the Department.

In September 2009, plaintiff reapplied for and received her real estate license, and she resumed employment as a real estate broker in January 2010. On February 24, 2010, the attorney for Century 21 and the Sbarras wrote to Aswad asserting that plaintiff had violated the settlement agreement, as it had permanently barred plaintiff from reacquiring her license or resuming work as a broker or agent. Aswad responded that his representation of plaintiff had ended and he had not been retained on a continuing basis, and he forwarded the attorney’s letter to plaintiff. Plaintiff then asked Aswad to respond to the letter, which he did. When Century 21 and the Sbarras commenced an action for breach of the settlement agreement (hereinafter the second action), Aswad became attorney of record. Century 21 and the Sbarras prevailed at trial, obtaining a judgment requiring plaintiff to permanently surrender her real estate license, along with nominal damages (see Thomas A. Sbarra Real Estate, Inc. v Lavelle-Tomko, 117 AD3d 1210, 1210 [2014], lv denied 26 NY3d 907 [2015]). Aswad’s representation ended on September 24, 2015, after exhausting all appeals in the second action.”

“We also deny the portion of plaintiff’s cross motion seeking to amend her amended complaint to add a cause of action under Judiciary Law § 487. “[I]n the absence of prejudice or surprise resulting directly from the delay in seeking leave [to amend a pleading], such applications are to be freely granted unless the proposed amendment is palpably insufficient or patently devoid of merit” (Lakeview Outlets Inc. v Town of Malta, 166 AD3d 1445, 1446 [2018] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]). Judiciary Law § 487 permits recovery of treble damages in a civil action against an attorney who intentionally deceives the court or a party during the pendency of a judicial proceeding (see Beshara v Little, 215 AD2d 823, 823 [1995]; see generally Amalfitano v Rosenberg, 12 NY3d 8, 14 [2009]). The claim must be pleaded with particularity and allege “intentional deceit and damages proximately caused by the deceit” (Jean v Chinitz, 163 AD3d 497, 497 [2018]). The proposed third amended complaint is palpably insufficient; it fails to plead the cause of action with particularity, as plaintiff pleaded no facts tending to prove [*6]that Aswad intended to deceive her. Moreover, plaintiff was aware of the facts allegedly supporting her proposed amendment before she filed the note of issue and certificate of readiness, yet she waited more than six months after such filing before seeking to add the Judiciary Law § 487 cause of action. Defendants plausibly assert prejudice related to this delay, as they intend to seek discovery on this new claim, but discovery is otherwise complete. Under the circumstances, plaintiff may not amend her amended complaint to add this new cause of action.”

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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.