Allen v Thompson 2022 NY Slip Op 31571(U) May 11, 2022 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: Index No. 160342/2020 Judge: Sabrina Kraus. This legal malpractice case is based upon the allegation that Defendant Attorney “unilaterally and without Plaintiff’s consent, changed one word to the Agreement.”
“Plaintiff alleges the following facts in her complaint. On or about February 28, 2012, Plaintiff was terminated from Chanel, Inc. after nineteen (19) years of employment. Plaintiff
was offered a severance package of $21,789.20 and five ( 5) months of paid COBRA. Plaintiff was not satisfied with this arrangement and believed that her employment was terminated on the basis of discrimination. Plaintiff consulted with Defendant for guidance with regard to accepting the severance package, but still retained her legal right to file a discrimination lawsuit against Chanel, Inc. Defendant, as an attorney, agreed to represent Plaintiff, to negotiate a separation and release agreement (the “Agreement”) from Chanel, Inc., that would permit Plaintiff to retain her legal right to move forward on her discrimination claim and represent her with respect to that claim as well.
After a few weeks of negotiation, Defendant received the final draft of the Agreement from Chanel, Inc. The Agreement that Defendant received contained language that excluded
from the release any discrimination claims. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff at the time, Defendant unilaterally and without Plaintiffs consent, changed one word to the Agreement, changing the word “including” to “excluding” in reference to Plaintiff waiving any rights to sue for discrimination.
This one change to the Agreement made by Defendant, now made the Agreement read that Plaintiff released all of her rights as part of the settlement, except for any right arising under Title VII, the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law, thereby allowing Plaintiff to still file a lawsuit under these statutes. Plaintiff was sent this new document by overnight mail and was instructed by Defendant to initial each page and sign it. Defendant then directed Plaintiff to send the altered document back to Chanel, Inc.”
“Plaintiffs specific factual allegations of negligence, causation, and damages are sufficient to state a cause of action for legal malpractice. Pyne v. Block & Assoc, 305 A.D .2d 213 ( I st
Dep’t 2003). See Between The Bread Realty Corp. v. Salans Hertzfeld Heilbronn Christy & Viener, 290 A.D.2d at 381; DweckLaw Firm v. Mann, 283 A.D . .2d at 293;Greenwich v
Markhoff, 234 A.D.2d 112, 114 (1st Dep’t 1996); Gotay v. Breitbart, 14 A.D.3d 452,454 (1st Dep’t 2005). ”
“Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s motion for dismissal pursuant to CPLR §321 l(a)(7) is granted only as to the cause of action or breach of fiduciary duty. ”