Miho Suzuki v Greenberg 2023 NY Slip Op 31289(U) April 21, 2023 Supreme Court, New York County Docket Number: Index No. 159360/2021 Judge: David B. Cohen may be the only case in which summary judgment was granted to plaintiff on a Judiciary Law 487 claim. It leans heavily on a prior finding in a matrimonial action.

“Plaintiff moves for summary judgment, pursuant to CPLR 3212, seeking an award of
treble damages against defendant for an alleged violation of Section 487 of the Judiciary Law. Defendant cross-moves for summary judgment, seeking an order dismissing plaintiffs complaint, and sanctioning plaintiff and her attorney for their alleged frivolous conduct in bringing this action.
Plaintiff, a resident of the State of Michigan ( complaint ,JI [NYSCEF Doc No. 197]),
previously resided in the State of New York, during her 2002 marriage to, and later separation from, her former husband Sebastian Gollings (see id. ,i,i 3-7 and Plaintiff aff,J3 [NYSCEF Doc No. 176]). Plaintiff and Gollings have one child togther, Kira Gollings, who was born on April 25, 2006 ( complaint ,J,J3-4 and Plaintiff aff,J3).

Gollings commenced an action for divorce against plaintiff in 2014, represented by a
non-party attorney, in New York County Supreme Court under Index Number 309246/2014 (Divorce Action) ( complaint, ,J5).
On October 19, 2015, plaintiff and Gollings entered into a settlement of the Divorce
Action, documented by a stipulation, a parenting plan, and a child support stipulation (Plaintiff statement of material facts [SOP] [NYSCEF Doc No. 200], ,J3). Plaintiff alleges that these agreements provided, among other things, that she and Gollings would share joint legal custody of Kira and that Gollings would have residential custody ( complaint ,J6). “

“At an inquest held on October 19, 2015, before a justice of this Court, Gollings and
plaintiff presented their executed stipulation, parenting plan, and child support stipulation to the Court, and allocuted to the terms of these agreements. The justice presiding informed the parties that they were now bound by the agreements but not yet divorced, and directed counsel to prepare and submit the necessary documents, including a proposed judgment, to finalize matters (see ex B to Defendant’s affidavit in support of cross-motion in sequence number 003 [hearing tr.] [NYSCEF Doc No. 206]).
Plaintiff alleges that Gollings’ s attorney failed to submit the proposed judgment and
ancillary documents needed for the judgment of divorce to be granted and that, from 2015 to 2018, she and Gollings remained separated but adhered to their parenting plan with respect to their child ( complaint, ,J7).”

“Here, plaintiff establishes her prima facie entitlement to judgment on her claim, by
demonstrating that the justice presiding over the divorce action already determined that defendant attempted to deceive or mislead the court by failing to include or mention the Final Custody Order when filing for a final judgment of divorce, which caused her to incur damages in the form of attorney fees and costs (see e.g. Schindler v Isller & Schrage, P.C., 262 AD2d 226 [1st Dept 1999], lv dismissed 94 NY2d 791 [1999] [plaintiff granted judgment on Judiciary Law § 487 claim as defendant law firm knowingly withheld crucial information from court in underlying action]; cf Betz v Blatt, 160 AD3d 696 [2d Dept 2018] [defendant attorney was properly denied summary dismissal of Judiciary Law § 487 claim based on allegations that he filed blatantly deficient accounting with court, which delayed administration of estate, and
caused estate to incur legal fees]; see also Amaltifano v Rosenberg, 428 F Supp 2d 196 [SD NY 2006] [attempted deceit is sufficient to trigger liability under section 487]). Moreover, given the prior finding that defendant intentionally attempted to mislead the court, he is estopped from arguing otherwise here.”

“For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby
ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for summary judgment on her sole cause of action, for
violation of Judiciary Law Section§ 487, is granted, and the Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in the sum of $54,774.00, with interest at the statutory rate, from the date of this decision, as calculated by the clerk, together with costs and disbursements as taxed by the Clerk upon submission of an appropriate bill of costs; and it is further ORDERED that defendant’s cross motion is denied; and it is further ORDERED, that the clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.”

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.