After reading the competing claims in Cotton v Kiperman 2024 NY Slip Op 31435(U)
April 22, 2024 Supreme Court, Kings County Docket Number: Index No. 515660/2023
Judge: Francois A. Rivera we wonder how Surrogate’s Court came to its conclusion. In any event Supreme Court dismisses on res judicata.

“The complaint alleges the following salient facts, among other2. On March 17, 2021, plaintiffs retained the defendants, RI< Law P.C. and Regina Kiperman as counsel for the purpose of assisting the plaintiffs with certain issues relating to the Estate of Angelina A. Ditaranto. Plaintiffs wanted the defendants to help amend the Letters of Administration by removing any limitations, reverse an illegal transfer of5459,shates of AT&T stock by the former Voluntary Administrator Mary L. Banker held by Computershare’s Corp.; institute a turnover proceeding to recover dividends and interest collected by Mary L Banker over a JO-year period; recover certain assets held in HSBC Bank; and institute an action against TD Bank. Plaintiffs sought to sue TD Bank because it allowed the Medallion Stamp on the transfer documents of the 5459shares of AT&T stock and that allowed for the transfer from the plaintiffs·’ Computershare’s Account into the name of Mary L. Banker. Although the plaintiffs had advised the defendants that Keane Legal Claimant Services (hereinafter KLS) needed to be removed from the turnover as a defendant with Mary L Banker, the defendants kept including KLS on the turnover action. The . defendants· kept billing for the work of revising and reviewing their work on the same turnover document for approximately four months (March through August). The defendants still took another three months to get the turnover and evidence and documentation that plaintiff provided filed with the Court Part of the bills for the first four months listed above were adjusted only to have doubled for the next two months (June & July). For the next year Regina Kiperman and ,staff continued revising, reviewing, and modifying the same documents. The plaintiffs constantly emailed and called reminding Regina Kiperman of these discrepancies only to be ignored for months. The defendants kept charging for the documents and revisions and the defendants did not remove KLS for almost a year. The defendants overcharged for making phone calls. Defendant charged for a petition to amend letters of administration that plaintiff had been asking for; for over a year and a half. When it was completed, it was near the end of the case and no longer needed, but the defendants charged for it anyway. The plaintiff wanted TD & HSBC Bank’s to both he considered in the lawsuit with Computershares and Mary Banker. TD Bank illegally gave Mary Banker the Medallion Stamp. That is why TD Bank had to represent Computershares under an Indemnity agreement. Adding to the problem Bruce Goodman, the attorney for TD Bank, wanted money from the Estate to pay for representation When it was a manager of the Bank that illegally gave the Medallion Stamp for an illegal transfer of the deceased assets that caused this action and the action that plaintiff has been working on sin<::e March 2017.”

The Surrogate order of Judge Graham established the following. Regina
Kiperman, Esq. commenced a miscellaneous proceeding (hereinafter the miscellaneous
proceeding) seeking a deten11ination pursuant to SCPA § 2110, of legal fees, costs and
disbursements incurred in connection with her representation on behalf of the Joseph A, Costello, the Administrator, since her retention on or about March 17, 2021, through through July 2022. The Administrator objected to the attorney’s fees requested. The parties consented to the issues being decided by the Court on their submissions. Judge Graham found the following facts. A review of petitioner’s affirmation of legal services reveals that the firm reviewed the documents presented by the respondent and engaged with discussions with Computershare and counsel for Computershare. Thereafter, the firm filed the petition for turnover of assets and sought a restraining order against Computershare to prevent Computershare from transferring the assets to Mary in her individual capacify. Upon the signing of the order to show cause, the firm served the documents to the interested parties and then engaged in negotiations with Computershare, negotiations with TD Bank, attended multiple Court conferences, conducted conference calls with counsel, and conducted conference calls with respondent explaining the next steps in the matter, including the possibility of filing a judicial accounting. In respondent1 s objections, respondent alleges “overbilling” and that the firm worked on the 11 same turnover document for approx. four months (March thru Aug) and still took another three months” to file the documents with the Court. However, the Finn’s hours indicate that the Firm was drafting the petition on or about May 11, 2021, and the petition, along with the attorney affirmation and order to show cause were filed with the Court on or about July 21,.2021. This was a complex petition, which included multiple unauthorized stock transfers and eight years·. of improper dividends.”

“The Court has carefully reviewed the. services performed which included
drafting the petition for turnover of estate assets, extensive contact with
attorneys and attending multiple court conferences. The petitioner’s Firm was
able to settle the matter by stipulation and the respondent collected over 5,549
shares of ATT stocks,. 1,322 shares of Warner Brothers stock, and the unpaid
dividend checks that Computershare had bee ·accumulating. In addition, the
Court order directed that Mary return misappropriated funds to the Estate, and
if she failed to do so, judgment would be entered against Mary. The Court
notes the complexity of this matter, with the Voluntary Letters of’
Administration initially being issued to Mary 2011 and multiple unauthorized
transactions taking place since that time. It is notable that petitioner succeeded
in turning over the misappropriated assets from Mary to the Estate and raising
the limitations in the Letters from $10,000 to $200,000; this is primarily what
the petitioner was hired to accomplish. I tis therefore without question that
petitioners firm has ably represented the Administrator and increased the
value of the Estate.”

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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.