Two international sophisticated insurance entities engage in multi-million dollar insurance-reinsurance agreements.  What could go wrong?  White Rock Ins. Co. PCC Ltd. v Lloyd’s Syndicate 4242
2021 NY Slip Op 31675(U)  May 18, 2021 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: 652867/2020 Judge: Andrew Borrok illustrates how court view arbitration and the deference paid to it.

“The parties previously engaged in an arbitration (the Prior Arbitration) that commenced on March 1, 2019 (NYSCEF Doc. Nos. 13-27). The following three issues were submitted to the Prior Arbitration panel: (1) whether White Rock was liable to the Syndicate under the Reinsurance Agreement for the full amount of its exposure in respect of subject Loss Occurrences or whether its liability was limited to the amount in the trust, (2) whether White Rock was required to “claw-back” collateral to top-up the trust account to the current reserve positions, and (3) whether the principles of equitable estoppel barred the Syndicate from prevailing on its claim.”

“A review of the Prior Arbitration record (see NYSCEF Doc. Nos. 13-27), and as discussed above, makes clear that the provisions of Article 14 of the Trust Agreement – which are at the core of the instant action – were clearly considered and litigated as part of the Prior Arbitration
(e.g., NYSCEF Doc. No. 15 at 8; NYSCEF Doc. No. 18 at 3, 24). White Rock expressly raised these provisions in the Trust Agreement as one of several defenses to its liability under the parties’ Reinsurance Contract both in its memoranda and at the hearing (e.g., NYSCEF Doc. No. 18 at 2-4, 7-11, 24-26; NYSCEF Doc. No. 23 at 29-30). The fact that the Trust Agreement (contrary to the Reinsurance Agreement) lacked an arbitration clause is simply not material as the parties, and specifically White Rock, asked the Prior Arbitration panel to address both agreements in the Prior Arbitration. Having been unsuccessful in its arguments, White Rock cannot now have a second bite at the apple in this proceeding (Chapman Steamer Collective, LLC v KeyBank Natl Assn., 163 AD3d 760, 761 [2d Dept 2018] [party cannot relitigate any claim which was, could or should have been litigated in prior proceeding]; John Grace & Co., Inc. v Tunstead, Schecter & Torre, 186 AD2d 15, 19-20 [1st Dept 1992] [collateral estoppel and res judicata barred legal malpractice where, in prior fee action, plaintiff had alleged legal malpractice as a defense]). ”

 

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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.