It’s unusual to see a firm like Marcum LLP suing its attorneys. In this particular setting, the claim was rejected by the Appellate Division.

In Marcum LLP v L’Abbate, Balkan, Colavita & Contini, L.L.P. 2023 NY Slip Op 06443 [222 AD3d 486] December 14, 2023 Appellate Division, First Department the accounting firm claimed that its defense lawyers were negligent.

“Supreme Court correctly concluded that defendants, L’Abbate, Balkan, Colavita & Contini, L.L.P. (LBCC) and Marianne S. Conklin, who represented plaintiff in an underlying action alleging accounting malpractice, among other things, were entitled to dismissal of the complaint given that plaintiff failed to allege that defendants were negligent or that they proximately caused any damages (see Rudolf v Shayne, Dachs, Stanisci, Corker & Sauer, 8 NY3d 438, 442 [2007]; Fielding v Kupferman, 65 AD3d 437, 442 [1st Dept 2009]). Plaintiff alleged that in the underlying action, defendants’ supplemental discovery production, which included responsive documents that had been inadvertently withheld, such as declarations submitted in connection with a federal investigation into one of plaintiff’s clients, precipitated a coverage dispute with its insurers. That dispute led to plaintiff having to retain other coverage counsel and to ultimately contribute to the settlement in the underlying action.

Although plaintiff contends that the declarations were subject to grand jury secrecy rules, plaintiff did not allege that either of the employees who composed the declarations testified before a federal grand jury, or that the declarations were entered into evidence. Thus, the declarations were not subject to the general rule of grand jury secrecy because they were not “evidence actually presented to [the grand jury]” nor “anything that may tend to reveal what transpired before it” (see United States v Eastern Air Lines, Inc., 923 F2d 241, 244 [2d Cir 1991], citing Fed Rules Crim Pro rule 6 [e] [2]). Accordingly, plaintiff failed to allege that defendants’ conduct breached its duty of care.”

“Supreme Court also correctly dismissed that part of the legal malpractice claim seeking disgorgement of attorneys’ fees paid to LBCC, which is, essentially, a claim for monetary damages in connection with its legal malpractice claim (see Access Point Med., LLC v Mandell, 106 AD3d 40, 44 [1st Dept 2013]). Defendant was not discharged for cause, nor did it charge legal fees for any work associated with the motion practice ensuing from the supplemental disclosures (see Decolator, Cohen & DiPrisco v Lysaght, Lysaght & Kramer, 304 AD2d 86, 91 [1st Dept 2003]). Since the underlying legal malpractice claim is dismissed, the claim for disgorgement must be dismissed as well (see Cambridge Capital Real Estate Invs., LLC v Archstone Enter. LP, 137 AD3d 593, 596 [1st Dept 2016]).

Plaintiff did not establish that it incurred litigation expenses as a result of defendants’ conduct to minimize or correct defendants’ mistakes (see Rudolf, 8 NY3d at 443), and this portion of the complaint seeking additional damages also should have been dismissed. Plaintiff failed to specifically allege what attorneys’ fees, if any, it paid to co-counsel to remedy any alleged shortcomings by defendants in the wake of the supplementary disclosures and defendants’ motion to withdraw from the representation. Concur—Kapnick, J.P., Friedman, González, O’Neill Levy, JJ.”

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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.