Judiciary Law § 487 is hard to prove to a court’s satisfaction.  It is not “lightly given” and rarely proceeds past the pleading stage.  Dreamco Dev. Corp. v Empire State Dev. Corp.  2021 NY Slip Op 00952 [191 AD3d 1444] February 11, 2021 Appellate Division, Fourth Department is a recent example.

“We likewise agree with defendants that the court erred in denying that part of the motion seeking to dismiss the ninth cause of action, for violations of Judiciary Law § 487, against Phillips Lytle LLP. Under section 487 (1), an attorney who “[i]s guilty of any deceit or collusion . . . with intent to deceive the court or any party,” is guilty of a misdemeanor and is potentially liable for treble damages to be recovered in a civil action. A violation of the statute may be established by evidence of the defendant’s alleged deceit (see Scarborough v Napoli, Kaiser & Bern, LLP, 63 AD3d 1531, 1533 [4th Dept 2009]; Izko Sportswear Co., Inc. v Flaum, 25 AD3d 534, 537 [2d Dept 2006]), but “alleged deceit that is not directed at a court must occur in the course of ‘a pending judicial proceeding’ ” (Hansen v Caffry, 280 AD2d 704, 705 [3d Dept 2001], lv denied 97 NY2d 603 [2001]; see Sun Graphics Corp. v Levy, Davis & Maher, LLP, 94 AD3d 669, 669 [1st Dept 2012]; Henry v Brenner, 271 AD2d 647, 647-648 [2d Dept 2000]).

The complaint alleged that Phillips Lytle LLP “actively participated in the preparation and distribution of [a certain memorandum] and preparation and filing of multiple court submissions to the New York State Supreme and Appellate Courts that included false and misleading statements” and “knowingly caused these misstatements to be filed with the intent of deceiving the Courts.” The complaint failed to allege, however, that Phillips Lytle LLP engaged in egregious misconduct or made a material false statement in the course of a judicial proceeding. The allegedly deceitful memorandum was not directed at the court, and the complaint failed to allege that it was promulgated during a pending judicial proceeding (see Costalas v Amalfitano, 305 AD2d 202, 203-204 [1st Dept 2003]; Hansen, 280 AD2d at 705). Furthermore, it is evident from the face of the complaint that plaintiffs were not parties to a judicial proceeding when the [*3]memorandum was prepared. The complaint also failed to identify the “multiple court submissions” that allegedly contained false and misleading statements by Phillips Lytle LLP, and it thus failed to adequately allege that deceitful statements were directed at a court (see Hansen, 280 AD2d at 705).

Finally, even assuming, arguendo, that the statement of an attorney from Phillips Lytle LLP to a law clerk that, according to defendant Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America (Travelers), DiPizio’s surety, DiPizio’s “paperwork was a mess and . . . the subcontractors didn’t know what to build,” was directed at the court, we nevertheless conclude that “the complaint fail[ed] to show . . . a deceit that reaches the level of egregious conduct” on the part of Phillips Lytle LLP (Savitt v Greenberg Traurig, LLP, 126 AD3d 506, 507 [1st Dept 2015] [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Englert v Schaffer, 61 AD3d 1362, 1363 [4th Dept 2009]; cf. Papa v 24 Caryl Ave. Realty Co., 23 AD3d 361, 361-362 [2d Dept 2005], lv denied 6 NY3d 705 [2006], cert denied 547 US 1207 [2006]). Moreover, defendants submitted, as part of their motion, documentary evidence in the form of email communications and deposition testimony establishing, inter alia, that consultants for Travelers did, in fact, express the belief that DiPizio’s paperwork was in disarray.”

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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.