Aaglane v Sami 2023 NY Slip Op 30636(U) March 3, 2023 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: Index No. 151262/2019 Judge: Mary V. Rosado is an interesting variant on the more usual case where Plaintiff is being sued for fees and brings a legal malpractice case against the attorney. In that setting, collateral estoppel of res judicata issues arise. Here, where the attorney seeks to join a case against a different party for legal fees the Court denies the request.

“This case was commenced on February 5, 2019 and arises out of Defendant’s alleged
malpractice during the course of her representation of Plaintiff in her divorce action against nonparty Khitri (NYSCEF Doc. 1). On January 8, 2021, Defendant moved for summary judgment dismissing Plaintiffs Complaint (NYSCEF Doc. 9 or “Mot. Seq. 001 “) Plaintiff cross-moved seeking to compel Defendant to respond to certain discovery demands (NYSCEF Doc. 11 ).”

“Defendant makes the instant motion pursuant to CPLR § 602(a) (NYSCEF Docs. 82-83).
CPLR § 602(a) provides “when actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before a court, the court, upon motion, may order a joint trial of any or all the matters in issue … and may make such other orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.” Where cases involve different facts, witnesses, claims, injuries, and defendants “individual issues predominate … so as to preclude the direction of a joint trial” (Gillard v Reid, 145 AD3d 446 [1st Dept 2016] quoting Abbondandolo v Hitzig, 282 AD2d 224, 225 [1st Dept 200 I]). Moreover, where actions are at different procedural postures a motion for a joint trial should not be granted (Maurer v Maurer, 96 AD3d 417,417 [1st Dept 2012]). Further, where two
actions involve different issues and disparate legal theories, it has been held there is a risk of confusing and “rendering the litigation unwieldy” (Ka/adze v Ocean Park Acquisition, L.P., 203 AD3d 1151 [2d Dept 2022] citing Gillard at 446).

The instant action is a legal malpractice action by Plaintiff against Defendant, her former lawyer in a matrimonial action (NYSCEF Doc. 1). The factual issues have to do with Defendant’s alleged abandonment of Plaintiff’s case; alleged loss of critical documents belonging to Plaintiff, Defendant’s alleged breach of confidentiality, Defendant’s prolonged absence from the country on the eve of trial, Defendant’s alleged failure to investigate key assets in the matrimonial action, Defendant’s alleged misappropriation of client funds, Defendant’s alleged failure to provide Plaintiff with a statement of client’s rights and responsibilities, and Defendant’s alleged lack of
expertise and experience with contested divorce cases (NYSCEF Doc. 1 at 116-42). On the other hand, the case Defendant seeks to join for trial involves $5,000 in allegedly unpaid attorneys’ fees which Khitri allegedly agreed to pay Defendant in an open court stipulation in the matrimonial action.

Here, the legal theories and issues are wholly separate. Moreover, the only party in
common in the two actions is Defendant. Khitri is not a party to this action, and Plaintiff is not a party to the Civil Court action. Further, the Civil Court action is far more simple and seeks damages in a far lesser sum than the instant legal malpractice action, and for that reason is in Civil Court which is the designated forum for expedited relief in disputes over relatively minor sums. Here, the parties have made multiple discovery motions and it appears depositions have not even begun. The parties have failed to enter into any discovery orders since their preliminary conference order dated November 18, 2021. As such, the procedural postures of the two actions are completely
different. These factors militate towards denying Defendant’s motion.”

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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.