“But for” proximate cause is central to legal malpractice claims. In Bono v Stim & Warmuth, P.C. 2023 NY Slip Op 02099 Decided on April 26, 2023 Appellate Division, Second Department the claim was that “but for” the failure to plead “usury” as an affirmative defense, the underlying litigation would have been won. The Appellate Division disagreed.

“The defendants represented the plaintiffs for a period of approximately six months in a commercial mortgage foreclosure action (hereinafter the underlying action). After the defendants were granted leave to withdraw as counsel and the plaintiffs retained new counsel, the plaintiffs commenced this action to recover damages for legal malpractice, alleging, inter alia, that the defendants negligently failed to assert criminal usury as an affirmative defense in the underlying action. Thereafter, the defendants moved pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(1) and (7) to dismiss the complaint. In an order dated February 24, 2020, the Supreme Court, among other things, granted the defendants’ motion. The plaintiffs appeal.”

“The claim of legal malpractice was predicated on the plaintiffs’ allegations that the court would have ruled in their favor in the underlying action had the defendants asserted the affirmative defense of criminal usury. However, the evidence indisputably demonstrated that the annual interest rate imposed under the loan documents was 6.5%, and, therefore, was not criminally usurious (see Penal Law § 190.40; Paycation Travel, Inc. v Global Merchant Cash, Inc., 192 AD3d 1040, 1041). Moreover, contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, “the defense of usury does not apply where . . . the terms of the . . . note impose a rate of interest in excess of the statutory maximum only after default or maturity” (Torto Note Member, LLC v Babad, 192 AD3d 843, 845 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Kraus v Mendelsohn, 97 AD3d 641, 641).”

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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.