North Flatts LLC v Belkin Burden Goldman, LLP 2023 NY Slip Op 02954 Decided on June 01, 2023 Appellate Division, First Department very quickly affirms a denial of summary judgment on two grounds. One was a premature motion for summary judgment was improper and the second was that no expert opinion was offered in support of defendant’s argument.

“In this legal malpractice action, plaintiff alleges that defendant, in connection with its representation of plaintiff in the legalization of an interim multiple building for residential use, negligently failed to seek a time extension to achieve compliance with the safety and fire protection standards of article 7-B of the Multiple Dwelling Law, thereby prohibiting plaintiff from legally collecting rent from its tenants pending its receipt of a final residential certificate of occupancy (see Multiple Dwelling Law art 7-C). Defendant did not satisfy its prima facie burden of establishing its entitlement to summary judgment dismissing the complaint as a matter of law, as defendant failed to submit an expert opinion demonstrating that it did not perform below the ordinary reasonable skill and care possessed by an average member of the legal community (see Suppiah v Kalish, 76 AD3d 829, 832 [1st Dept 2010]). Defendant contends that it had timely filed an article 7-B compliance form on plaintiff’s behalf in reliance on the certification of plaintiff’s architect, and that the filing of that form prohibited it from seeking a time extension to achieve article 7-B compliance. However, it has not submitted an expert affidavit establishing that its reliance on the architect’s opinion was reasonable under the circumstances, or explaining how defendant was prohibited from withdrawing the filed form and seeking a time extension to comply with article 7-B. Moreover, absent an expert affidavit, defendant failed to establish prima facie that its alleged negligence in its the handling of the article 7-B compliance form was not a proximate cause of plaintiff’s losses (see id.).

In any event, the court properly denied the prediscovery motion as premature, given plaintiff’s showing that facts essential to justify opposition to defendant’s motion may lie within defendant’s exclusive knowledge or control (see CPLR 3212[f]; Lyons v New York City Economic Dev. Corp., 182 AD3d 499, 499-500 [1st Dept 2020]). In response to defendant’s claim that it was not aware of potential issues with the architect’s certification of compliance until the August 2021 conference, after the May 2021 deadline to apply for an extension had expired, plaintiff pointed out that its tenants had disputed the architect’s compliance opinion as early as January 2021. Discovery is necessary to shed light on when defendant knew of a potential problem with the filed article 7-B compliance form, and whether defendant could have timely withdrawn that form and sought a timely extension to achieve compliance.”

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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.