In this unusual case, Zanani v Scott Seidler Family Trust 2023 NY Slip Op 00836
Decided on February 14, 2023 Appellate Division, First Department, the attorney brought the claim for legal fees as a special proceedings, seeing a declaratory judgment that he was owed money. Supreme Court analyzed his claim, and dismissed it in favor of a regular plenary proceeding seeking a breach of contract or quantum meruit claim.

Dismissal was improper. “Supreme Court should have converted the special proceeding into a plenary action rather than dismissing the petition, as CPLR 103(c) “prohibits dismissal of [a] proceeding solely on the ground that it was not brought in the proper form” (Matter of Greene v. Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine & Underberg, 88 AD2d 547, 548 [1st Dept 1982]; see Matter of Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm v Danzig, 248 AD2d 178, 179 [1st Dept 1998]).

We note that petitioner withdraws his claims except for those asserting breach of contract and account stated. Nonetheless, we decline petitioner’s request to construe the petition and answer as summary judgment papers and to summarily adjudicate his remaining claims at this stage. When a special proceeding is converted into a plenary action in accordance with CPLR 103(c), the petition is deemed a complaint, not a motion for summary judgment (see Matter of David H. Berg & Assoc. v Weksler, 193 AD3d 612, 613 [1st Dept 2021]). The record may present material issues of fact as to whether petitioner is entitled to recover under either remaining cause of action, or whether he committed legal malpractice, and these issues are for the motion court to address in the first instance (see Commissioner of the State Ins. Fund v Weissman, 90 AD3d 417, 417-418 [1st Dept 2011]; Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v Hausen, 143 AD2d 577, 581 [1st Dept 1988]).”

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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.