Davis v Farrell Fritz, P.C. 2022 NY Slip Op 00399 Decided on January 26, 2022 Appellate Division, Second Department deals with fraud in very big numbers.  Dismissal under CPLR 3211 was reversed.  Here are the facts:

“n 2009, the plaintiffs’ decedent, Charles Robert Allen III (hereinafter Allen) through his son Luke Allen, as guardian for the property management of his father, commenced an action in federal district court against Christopher Devine, alleging, inter alia, that Devine fraudulently induced Allen to invest $70 million in a certain broadcast company and that Devine diverted such sum for his own personal use (hereinafter the Devine action). Following Allen’s death on March 9, 2011, Grace Allen was appointed executrix of his estate and substituted as the plaintiff in the action. The executrix then retained the defendants Farrell Fritz, P.C., and John R. Morken (hereinafter together the Farrell Fritz defendants) and the defendants Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP, Joseph N. Campolo, and Patrick McCormick (hereinafter collectively the CMM defendants), and substituted them as counsel in the action in place of Cohen & Gresser LLP (hereinafter C & G). The Devine action later settled for $750,000. The settlement agreement also encompassed a related action against Devine commenced in the Supreme Court, New York County, by Excelsior Capital, LLC (hereinafter Excelsior), a commercial lender controlled by Richard Davis (hereinafter the Excelsior action), which had been awarded damages in excess of $20 million on its breach of contract cause of action against Devine.

Thereafter, Davis and Thaddeus Mack Allen (hereinafter Thaddeus), as co-administrators of Allen’s estate under limited letters of administration issued April 10, 2017, commenced the instant action against the Farrell Fritz defendants and the CMM defendants. The complaint alleged, inter alia, that the defendants committed legal malpractice by failing to assert causes of action against Devine’s alleged co-conspirator, attorney Robert E. Neiman, and Neiman’s law firm, Greenberg Traurig, LLP (hereinafter collectively the Neiman defendants), and against C & G for its failure to assert causes of action against Neiman. The Farrell Fritz defendants moved pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(1), (5), and (7) to dismiss the amended complaint insofar as asserted against it, and the CMM defendants separately moved to dismiss the amended complaint insofar as asserted against it on similar grounds. In an order dated November 20, 2017, the Supreme Court granted the motions. Clerk’s judgments were later entered upon the order dismissing the amended complaint. The plaintiffs appeal from the clerk’s judgments.”

“The Supreme Court erred in concluding that the statute of limitations on the causes of action that the plaintiffs allege should have been asserted against Neiman expired prior to the defendants’ retention. A cause of action based upon fraud must be commenced within six years from the time of the fraud, or within two years from the time the fraud was discovered, or with reasonable diligence could have been discovered, whichever is longer (see CPLR 203[g]; 213[8]; Coleman v Wells Fargo & Co., 125 AD3d 716, 716). Although the complaint alleges that Devine and Neiman induced Allen to lend money beginning in 2000, the continuing wrong doctrine (see Selkirk v State of New York, 249 AD2d 818, 819; Barash v Estate of Sperlin, 271 AD2d 558) applies such that the six-year statute of limitations “began to run from the commission of the last wrongful act” (Community Network Serv., Inc. v Verizon NY, Inc., 39 AD3d 300, 301). The amended complaint, supplemented by Thaddeus’s affidavit (see Perlov v Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 189 AD3d 1624, 1626; Sokol v Leader, 74 AD3d 1180, 1181), alleges that the last wrongful act was in December [*2]2006, when Allen, having exhausted all of his liquid assets, and at the urging of Devine and his cohorts, borrowed more than $20 million against a bond portfolio and wired the proceeds to the alleged shell entity. Inasmuch as the defendants were retained prior to the expiration of the limitations period for asserting causes of action against Neiman alleging fraud, the first and third causes of action of the instant amended complaint, alleging legal malpractice premised on the defendants’ failure to assert causes of action against Neiman, are not time-barred (cfDempster v Liotti, 86 AD3d 169, 181).”


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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.