Musial v Donohue 2024 NY Slip Op 01414 Decided on March 15, 2024 Appellate Division, Fourth Department is a law school example of the territorial effect of jurisdiction and due process. A Texas law firm prosecutes a Texas motor vehicle accident in Texas, and is not subject to a New York legal malpractice case for that work.

“Memorandum: Plaintiffs, who reside in New York, commenced this breach of contract and legal malpractice action against Texas attorney Russell Button, Esq., and his law firm, the Button Law Firm, PLLC (collectively, Button defendants), as well as New York attorneys David C. Donohue, Esq., Barry J. Donohue, Esq., and John F. Donohue, Esq., and their law firm, Donohue Law Offices (collectively, Donohue defendants). Plaintiffs allege that defendants failed to provide them with adequate legal representation with respect to claims arising from a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Texas. In appeal No. 1, plaintiffs appeal from an order that granted the Button defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint against them for lack of personal jurisdiction. In appeal No. 2, plaintiffs appeal from an order that denied their motion seeking, inter alia, to strike the note of issue or obtain post-note of issue discovery.

With respect to appeal No. 1, we reject plaintiffs’ contention that the Button defendants are subject to long-arm jurisdiction in New York. Under CPLR 302 (a) (1), ” ‘a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over any non-domiciliary . . . who in person or through an agent . . . transacts any business within the state’ ” (People v Frisco Mktg. of NY LLC, 93 AD3d 1352, 1353 [4th Dept 2012]). “Jurisdiction can attach on the basis of one transaction, even if the defendant never enters the state, so long as the defendant’s activities here were purposeful and there is a substantial relationship between the transaction and the claim asserted” (Glazer v Socata, S.A.S., 170 AD3d 1685, 1686 [4th Dept 2019], lv denied 33 NY3d 911 [2019], quoting Fischbarg v Doucet, 9 NY3d 375, 380 [2007] [internal quotation marks omitted]). “Purposeful” activities are “those by which a defendant, through volitional acts, avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within [New York], thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws” (id., quoting Fischbarg, 9 NY3d at 380 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see generally Ehrenfeld v Bin Mahfouz, 9 NY3d 501, 508 [2007]). “As the party seeking to assert personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on [that] issue” (Frisco Mktg. of NY LLC, 93 AD3d at 1353 [internal quotation marks omitted]).

Here, plaintiffs failed to show that the Button defendants purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in New York so as to subject them to long-arm jurisdiction pursuant to CPLR 302 (a) (1), inasmuch as the Button defendants “never entered [*2]New York, [were] solicited . . . to perform services outside of New York, . . . performed outside of New York such services as were performed, and [are] alleged [only] to have neglected to perform other services outside of New York” (Mayes v Leipziger, 674 F2d 178, 185 [2d Cir 1982]; see Bloomgarden v Lanza, 143 AD3d 850, 852 [2d Dept 2016]), and the documentary evidence belies the conclusory allegations of plaintiffs’ counsel that the Button defendants actively solicited referrals in New York (cfFischbarg, 9 NY3d at 377; see generally Eberhardt v G & J Contr., Inc., 188 AD3d 1653, 1654 [4th Dept 2020]; Peters v Peters, 101 AD3d 403, 403-404 [1st Dept 2012]). Even accepting as true the allegations set forth in the complaint and in the opposition to the motion to dismiss, and according plaintiffs the benefit of every favorable inference (see Bloomgarden, 143 AD3d at 851), we conclude that, although plaintiffs signed the Button defendants’ retainer agreement in New York and were in New York while on a telephone conference call with defendant Russell Button, who was in Texas at the time, this occurred during the course of the Button defendants’ performance of legal services in Texas and because plaintiffs were New York domiciliaries, not because the Button defendants were purposefully engaging in any business activities in New York (see id. at 852; cfState of New York v Vayu, Inc., 39 NY3d 330, 332-335 [2023]).

Plaintiffs also failed to make a prima facie showing of long-arm jurisdiction over the Button defendants pursuant to CPLR 302 (a) (3), inasmuch as plaintiffs’ alleged injuries did not occur within New York but, rather, in Texas, where the Button defendants’ alleged legal malpractice occurred (see Bloomgarden, 143 AD3d at 852; see generally Zeidan v Scott’s Dev. Co., 173 AD3d 1639, 1640 [4th Dept 2019]).”

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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.