A recurring situation where a law firm moves to be relieved shortly before a motion for summary judgment or before trial is often linked to the lack of an expert, or the reluctance of the law firm to hire (and expend funds for) an expert.  Of course, this is not the only reason law firms litigate a case for years and then abruptly exits the case.  How the law firm exits is very important.

In Davis v Siben & Siben, LLC  2022 NY Slip Op 06906 Decided on December 7, 2022  the Appellate Division, Second Department placed great weight on the day that the law firm served an order permitting withdrawal with notice of entry on Plaintiff.

“The defendant, Siben & Siben, LLC, represented the plaintiff in an underlying action entitled Davis v Commack Hotel, LLC, which sought to recover damages for, inter alia, negligence, wrongful death, and conscious pain and suffering as it related to the death of the plaintiff’s son. On or about October 1, 2014, the defendant moved to be relieved as counsel in that action, which motion was granted under the following conditions: that the defendant serve the plaintiff with a notice of entry within 20 days, and that the defendant file proof that such service had been effected. The defendant served the plaintiff with the notice of entry on November 10, 2014.

On or about January 11, 2018, the plaintiff, pro se, commenced this action alleging legal malpractice and fraudulent misrepresentation against the defendant. The defendant moved, inter alia, for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The Supreme Court granted the motion. The plaintiff appeals, and we affirm.

“The statute of limitations for a cause of action to recover damages for legal malpractice is three years, which accrues at the time the malpractice is committed” (Tulino v Hiller, P.C., 202 AD3d 1132, 1135 [internal citations omitted]). “However, pursuant to the doctrine of continuous representation, the time within which to sue on the claim is tolled until the attorney’s continuing representation of the client with regard to the particular matter terminates” (Aqua-Trol Corp. v Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., 144 AD3d 956, 957). “For the doctrine to apply, there must be clear indicia of an ongoing, continuous, developing, and dependent relationship between the [*2]client and the attorney. One of the predicates for the application of the doctrine is continuing trust and confidence in the relationship between the parties” (Beroza v Sallah Law Firm, P.C., 126 AD3d 742, 743 [internal citations and quotation marks omitted]). Here, the defendant was relieved as counsel no later than November 10, 2014, when it fulfilled the obligations set out by the Supreme Court. Insofar as this action was commenced more than three years later, on January 11, 2018, the legal malpractice claims were untimely.”

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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.