The vast number of sibling v. sibling cases involving parental estates should not be surprising, but Altman v DiPreta  2022 NY Slip Op 02774 Decided on April 27, 2022 Appellate Division, Second Department is a prime example of how basic the manipulations can get.

“In 2010, Jeanne Altman (hereinafter Jeanne) executed a durable power of attorney in favor of her two sons, Charles Altman (hereinafter Charles) and Edwin Altman (hereinafter Edwin). Following the deterioration of Jeanne’s mental faculties, Charles and Edwin had disagreements about her care. Charles retained the defendant Richard Slagle, a Connecticut attorney, to represent Jeanne. Charles then commenced a conservatorship proceeding in Connecticut, where Jeanne was then residing. By decree dated December 4, 2012, the Probate Court of Greenwich, Connecticut (hereinafter the Probate Court), appointed the defendant Richard S. DiPreta, a Connecticut attorney, as conservator of Jeanne’s estate, and appointed Charles as conservator of her person.

DiPreta subsequently petitioned the Probate Court for the removal of Charles as conservator of Jeanne’s person. By decree dated August 2, 2013, the Probate Court removed Charles as conservator, finding, inter alia, that Charles had improperly brought Jeanne from Connecticut to New York without court approval, and that Charles failed to act in Jeanne’s best interests.

In February 2014, Charles and Jeanne (hereinafter together the plaintiffs) commenced this action in New York against, among others, DiPreta and DiPreta Law Firm LLC (hereinafter together the DiPreta defendants), and Slagle, inter alia, to recover damages for legal malpractice, tortious interference with contractual relations, and violation of Judiciary Law § 487. In an amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that the DiPreta defendants and Slagle engaged in “deceit and collusion” as part of a plan to retain control over Jeanne’s assets and withhold payments to Charles. The DiPreta defendants moved, among other things, pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the causes of action alleging tortious interference with contractual relations and violation of Judiciary Law § 487 insofar as asserted against them. Slagle separately moved, inter alia, pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(8) to dismiss the amended complaint insofar as asserted against him for lack of personal jurisdiction, and pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the cause of action alleging violation of Judiciary Law § 487 insofar as asserted against him. In an order dated March 24, 2015, the Supreme Court, among other things, granted those branches of the separate motions. Charles appeals.”

“Under Judiciary Law § 487(1), an attorney who “[i]s guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party” is liable to the injured party for treble damages. “Judiciary Law § 487 ‘applies to an attorney acting in his or her capacity as an attorney, not to a party who is represented by counsel and who, incidentally, is an attorney'” (Pinkesz Mut. Holdings, LLC v Pinkesz, 198 AD3d 693, 698, quoting Oakes v Muka, 56 AD3d 1057, 1058). Here, the parties’ evidentiary submissions demonstrated that the DiPreta defendants did not act in their capacities as attorneys when they allegedly made deceitful statements. Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly granted that branch of the DiPreta defendants’ motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the cause of action alleging violation of Judiciary Law § 487 insofar as asserted against them by Charles (see Smallwood v Lupoli, 107 AD3d 782, 784; Crown Assoc., Inc. v Zot, LLC, 83 AD3d 765, 768; Oakes v Muka, 56 AD3d at 1058).”

 

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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.