Cases are settled with releases, and more and more often, non-parties to the litigation are included in the release along with the parties.  Releases will be for the parties, their insurers, their agents, and often, their attorneys.  Such was the case in 179-94 ST LLC v Hassan  2022 NY Slip Op 33870(U)  November 16, 2022  Supreme Court, New York County
Docket Number: Index No. 155214/2015  Judge: Paul A. Goetz.

“Plaintiff 179-94 ST LLC (179-94 ST) is the owner of real property located at 179 East 94th Street, New York, New York (the building), it purchased from defendant Gago Properties
LLC on October 6, 2014. Plaintiff Michael Kaplan is a member of 179-94 ST and plaintiff Yashar Foundation Inc. is the net lessee of the building. After 179-94 ST purchased the
building, plaintiffs learned that one of the units was occupied by defendant Sania Hassan, who had entered into a 15-year lease with Gago Properties LLC, a month before the sale. As  a result, plaintiffs commenced three separate actions related to the sale, claiming, in relevant part, that defendants Gago Properties LLC and Robert Gago (Gago Defendants) and their attorney, defendant Brian Limmer, defrauded plaintiffs by failing to disclose Hassan’ s tenancy in the building and making misrepresentations in connection with the sale. Since then, the three related actions were consolidated into this action and some of the defendants have settled with plaintiffs. ”

“Limmer now moves pursuant to CPLR § 3212 for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the claims asserted against him by 179-94 ST as well as dismissal of the cross-claims for legal malpractice asserted by the Gago Defendants. Plaintiffs Michael Kaplan and Yashar Foundation have not asserted any claims against Limmer.
In support of his motion, Limmer argues that 179-94 ST’ s claims against him are barred by the broad release executed on October 14, 2014, which provides that releasor, 179-94 ST, for the sum of $160,000 and the transfer of the deed, “hereby releases and discharges Gago Properties LLC and Robert Gago, [and] its … attorneys … from all actions, causes of action … from the beginning of the world to the day of the date of this release” (Affm of Keith Roussel dated June 29, 2022, Exh. 31). 179-94 ST argues that despite its broad language, the release does not bar its claims against Limmer because the release was only meant to cover the assignment of the mortgage and the discontinuance of the pending foreclosure action against the property and not any claims arising from the sale of the property. In support, 179-94 ST cites to a contemporaneous email relating to the release as well as affidavits from its principals which explain the intended scope of the release.”

“The plain language of the release is clear and unambiguous and demonstrates the parties’ intent to settle all claims 179-94 ST had or could have against the
Gago Defendants and their agents, including their attorney, Limmer. Thus, because the language of the release is clear and unambiguous on its face, the extrinsic evidence offered by 179-94 ST cannot be examined (Goldberg v. Manufacturers Life Ins. Co., 242 A.D.2d 175, 181 [1 st Dep’t 1998] [“that plaintiffs now profess their subjective intention was not to surrender any rights under policy 2 does not defeat enforcement of the clear intent of the release.]; see also AckoffOrtega v. Windswept Pacific Entertainment, 120 F.Supp.2d 273,282 [S.D.N.Y. 2000]). Accordingly, 179-94 ST’s claims against Limmer must be dismissed.”

 

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.