Santaro v Finocchio 2023 NY Slip Op 05836 Decided on November 17, 2023 Appellate Division, Fourth Department illustrates the inherent bias towards attorneys that courts have always taken. Not forgetting that attorneys write and legislate the rules, which are then applied and considered by attorneys who are judging other attorneys, it is no surprise that the rules favor attorneys. The social policy is to limit legal malpractice cases so that every litigation is not followed by a pair of legal malpractice claims.

That being said, in this case there was limited to no damages cognizable. The Appellate Division wrote:

“Memorandum: In this legal malpractice action, plaintiff seeks damages for the alleged negligence of defendants in their representation of him in a proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act article 4. As alleged in the complaint in this action, defendants prepared and timely filed objections to the Support Magistrate’s order in the Family Court proceeding on August 19, 2019. Although defendants possessed an affidavit of mailing sworn to on August 19, 2019, detailing service of the objections that same day, defendants did not file the affidavit of mailing until two days later, on August 21, 2019.

Family Court sua sponte dismissed the objections based upon defendants’ failure to strictly comply with Family Court Act § 439 (e) by failing to file proof of service at the same time as the objections. However, on appeal, this Court reversed, reinstated the objections, and remitted the matter to Family Court for further proceedings on the objections, holding that “[s]trict adherence to this deadline is not required” and that, under the circumstances, dismissal of the objections was not warranted (Matter of Sigourney v Santaro, 192 AD3d 1482, 1483 [4th Dept 2021] [internal quotation marks omitted]). In so holding, this Court noted that there was no dispute that the two-day delay did not result in any prejudice inasmuch as the petitioner in the Family Court proceeding was served with a copy of the objections within the statutory time period (see id.).”

“Although Family Court may properly dismiss objections for failure to comply with Family Court Act § 439 (e) under some circumstances (see generally Matter of Minka v Minka, 219 AD2d 810, 810-811 [4th Dept 1995]), strict compliance with the statute is not always required (see Sigourney, 192 AD3d at 1483). Here, the complaint alleged that defendants timely filed the objections, possessed an affidavit of mailing detailing proper service on the day of filing, and delayed just two days in filing proof of service, and the complaint also alleged that opposing counsel filed a rebuttal. Contrary to plaintiff’s contention, the allegations in the complaint do not support even an inference that any prejudice was caused by the two-day delay, nor do they support any inference that such delay would warrant dismissal of the objections by Family Court. Consequently, we conclude that plaintiff’s allegations, even if accepted as true, fail to allege a prima facie case of legal malpractice (see CPLR 3211 [a] [7]; Leder, 9 NY3d at 837).”

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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.