Professionals take on work, and more specifically responsibilities.  Some come from the general tort requirement to act reasonably towards the public, some arise from contract.  Lam v 933 60th St. Realty Inc.   
2019 NY Slip Op 30707(U) March 20, 2019 Supreme Court, Kings County Docket Number: 514453/2018 Judge: Debra Silber is an example of how a carefully drafted retainer agreement/contract can limit potential liability.

“This is an action for property damage allegedly caused to plaintiffs’ properties as a result of excavation work at 1759 Bay Ridge Parkway, which is adjacent to the plaintiffs’ properties. The complaint includes claims against all defendants sounding in negligence, private nuisance, trespass, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligent design, encroachment, declaratory judgment, injunctive relief against excavation and construction, injunctive relief seeking removal of trespassing and encroaching structures, and ten causes of action under various sections of article 28 of the Building Code, as well as a professional malpractice claim against the defendant architect, S M Tam Architect PLLC. Plaintiffs initially brought an order to show cause seeking a preliminary injunction, which included a temporary restraining order stopping all work at the site. On the initial return date, the order to show cause was adjourned for plaintiffs to provide an affidavit from an architect or engineer to substantiate the plaintiffs’ allegations of property damage and trespass. The
temporary restraining order was modified to limit its scope to the back half of the construction site, which is closest to the plaintiffs’ properties, which are located on the other side of the block, that is, Block 6215. The request for a preliminary injunction was ultimately denied by the court, based upon plaintiffs’ failure to substantiate their claims of property damage and trespass. It should be noted that while one attorney brought this action and the order to show cause on behalf of all five plaintiffs, by the end of 2018, he only represented plaintiffs Lin and Chee and not the other three plaintiffs, who are now prose. ”

“Here, S M Tam Architect has come forward with documentary evidence that conclusively establishes a defense as a matter of law, under CPLR § 3211(a)(1), and has shown that the complaint fails to state a cause of action against it, under CPLR § Here, S M Tam Architect has come forward with documentary evidence that conclusively establishes a defense as a matter of law, under CPLR § 3211(a)(1), and has shown that the complaint fails to state a cause of action against it, under CPLR § 3211 (a)(7), and that the cross claims against it should be dismissed as well. S M Tam Architect has submitted its contract with the defendant property owner and an engagement letter between the defendant property owner and an engineer for the underpinning designs, as well as the affidavit of its principal, that show that S M Tam Architect had no contractual relationship with plaintiffs, nor any responsibility for the underpinning work, or for overseeing the excavation work, from which a duty in tort to a party not in privily of contract could arise. S M Tam Architect’s contract with the defendant owner expressly excluded “support of excavation application” and “piling design” and provides that SM Tam Architect “shall not have control or charge of, shall not supervise, and shall not be responsible for construction means, methods, techniques, sequences, or procedures, for safety precautions and programs in connection with Project, for failure of any contractor or  subcontractor to carry out its respective work in accordance with the contract documents.”
Thus, S M Tam Architect has demonstrated that it had no contractual obligations concerning excavation or underpinning from which a duty to plaintiffs could have arisen (see Am. Sec. Ins. Co. v Church of God of St. Albans, 131 AD3d 903, 905 [2d Dept 2015] [architect’s “contractual obligations to the Church do not give rise to tort liability in favor of the plaintiffs, as his contract with the owner did not specifically impose any duties with respect to the excavation phase of the project and expressly stated that (architect) did not have control over, and was not responsible for, the construction means and methods or the safety precautions taken in connection with the work”]; 492 Kings Realty, LLC v 506 Kings, LLC, 105 AD3d 991, 994 [2d Dept 2013] [architect who was not retained to provide any services related to protection of adjacent property granted summary judgment]). Further, S M Tam Architect has shown that it was not in privily with plaintiffs, nor did it have a relationship with plaintiffs that was the functional equivalent of privily, from which a
professional malpractice claim could arise (see Sutton Apartments Corp. v Bradhurst 100
Dev. LLC, 107 AD3d 646, 648 [2d Dept 2013] [“The tort claims against the architect fail for
lack of contractual privily, or the functional equivalency of privily”]). “

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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.