In Silverman v Eccleston Law, LLC   2022 NY Slip Op 04991  Decided on August 17, 2022 Appellate Division, Second Department, Plaintiff, an attorney, took a loan from his employer, which he agreed to repay if he resigned.  When he resigned, he hired a law firm to negotiate the repayment.  Eventually, plaintiff had to repay the loan.  He then sued for malpractice.  The claim failed.  From reading the decision it appears that the main departure claimed was that his attorneys did not tell him that there was little likelihood of avoiding repayment.

“The plaintiff, an attorney licensed to practice law in New York and a certified financial planner, received a loan from his former employer, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (hereinafter Ameriprise), in the amount of $280,190, for which he executed a promissory note, requiring him to immediately repay the loan in full in the event of his resignation. The note required any disputes to be arbitrated pursuant to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (hereinafter FINRA) Code of Arbitration Procedure for Industry Disputes.

When the plaintiff decided to resign from Ameriprise, he hired the defendant law firm to negotiate with Ameriprise regarding the promissory note, and, if necessary, defend him against a note collection claim and assert counterclaims. The defendant’s main office is located in Chicago, Illinois. The plaintiff sent his correspondence with the defendant to the main office in Chicago, and, on one occasion, met with his attorneys in that city.

Ultimately, when the plaintiff failed to pay the debt, Ameriprise commenced a FINRA arbitration proceeding, held in New York, at which the defendant represented the plaintiff. The arbitration panel awarded judgment against the plaintiff and in favor of Ameriprise, requiring the plaintiff to pay the remaining balance of the note, with interest, as well as attorneys’ fees (pursuant to the terms of the note).”

“Here, accepting all facts as alleged in the amended complaint to be true and according the plaintiff the benefit of every favorable inference (see Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87-88), the amended complaint failed to state a legal malpractice cause of action. In the third and fourth causes of action, the plaintiff failed to adequately allege a breach of the applicable standard of care. The “selection of one among several reasonable courses of action does not constitute malpractice” (Rosner v Paley, 65 NY2d 736, 738), and an attorney may not be held liable for “‘the exercise of appropriate judgment that leads to an unsuccessful result'” (Bua v Purcell & Ingrao, P.C., 99 AD3d 843, 846-847, quoting Rubinberg v Walker, 252 AD2d 466, 467).

The fifth cause of action failed to adequately plead that, but for the defendant’s alleged negligence, the plaintiff would have obtained a more favorable outcome. The plaintiff merely alleged that had the defendant shared with him information imparted by Ameriprise’s attorney concerning the low rate of success of challenges to note collection proceedings, he would have insisted on settlement discussions (see Katsoris v Bodnar & Milone, LLP, 186 AD3d at 1506; Janker v Silver, Forrester & Lesser, P.C., 135 AD3d 908, 909; see also Bauza v Livington, 40 AD3d 791, 793). “Conclusory allegations of damages or injuries predicated on speculation cannot suffice for a malpractice action” (Bua v Purcell & Ingrao, P.C., 99 AD3d at 848; see Janker v Silver, Forrester & Lesser, P.C., 135 AD3d at 909).”

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
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.