JL§ 487, possibly the oldest part of the anglo-american common law, but for the Magna Carta, regularly comes up in legal malpractice settings.  Here, in Sammy v Haupel 2019 NY Slip Op 02372
Decided on March 27, 2019 the Appellate Division, Second Department affirms the dismissal of a claim against Wilson Elser and its top attorneys.

“The events underlying this action relate to the plaintiff’s purchase of real property in 2007. According to the plaintiff, Expedient Title, Inc. (hereinafter Expedient), as the authorized agent of First American Title Insurance Company (hereinafter First American), performed title closing services, including issuing title insurance to the plaintiff, for the plaintiff’s purchase of the property. Ultimately, the plaintiff made a claim on that title insurance policy, the claim was denied, and the plaintiff commenced an action against Expedient and First American (hereinafter the claim denial action).

The plaintiff subsequently commenced this action against Thomas W. Hyland, Tina [*2]Zerilli, and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, LLP (hereinafter collectively the Wilson Elser defendants), who had represented Expedient in the claim denial action, and against Frank Haupel, Michael Schwarz, and DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr, LLP (hereinafter collectively the DelBello defendants), who had represented First American in the claim denial action. The plaintiff alleged that through their representation of First American and Expedient, the defendants had (1) violated Judiciary Law § 487, (2) committed fraud, (3) filed a fraudulent instrument, (4) committed tortious interference with a contract, and (5) offered a false instrument for filing in the first degree.”

“An attorney is liable under Judiciary Law § 487(1) if he or she “[i]s guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party.” “A cause of action alleging a violation of Judiciary Law § 487 must be pleaded with specificity” (Betz v Blatt, 160 AD3d 696, 698). “Judiciary Law § 487 focuses on the attorney’s intent to deceive, not the deceit’s success” (id. at 699 [internal quotation marks omitted]).

Here, the plaintiff did not state a cause of action alleging violations of Judiciary Law § 487. The plaintiff failed to set forth “with specificity,” either in her complaint or in her papers opposing the motions, how the defendants knew or should have known that she did not sign the release upon which they relied in asserting affirmative defenses on behalf of their clients in the claim denial action (id. at 698). Even if the plaintiff had sufficiently pleaded this allegation, she “failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that the[ ] defendants intended to deceive the court” or the plaintiff (Klein v Rieff, 135 AD3d 910, 912; see Ticketmaster Corp. v Lidsky, 245 AD2d 142, 143; Thomas v Chamberlain, D’Amanda, Oppenheimer & Greenfield, 115 AD2d 999, 999-1000). The plaintiff’s conclusory allegation that the defendants intended to deceive the court and the plaintiff in relying on the affirmative defense of release in the claim denial action was not sufficient to state a cause of action alleging a violation of Judiciary Law § 487 (see Betz v Blatt, 160 AD3d at 698; Kupersmith v Winged Foot Golf Club, Inc., 38 AD3d 847, 848). Accordingly, we agree with the Supreme Court’s determination granting those branches of the defendants’ motions which were pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the cause of action alleging violations of Judiciary Law § 487 insofar as asserted against each of them.”

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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 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.