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Posted: April 1, 2014

Court of Appeals Rules That Limitations Period for Judiciary Law § 487 Claims is Six Years

On April 1, 2014, the Court of Appeals issued a decision in Melcher v. Greenberg Traurig, 2014 NY Slip Op. 02213, holding that the limitations period for claims under Judiciary Law § 487 is six years.

“Judiciary Law § 487 exposes an attorney who is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party to criminal (misdemeanor) liability and treble damages, to be recovered by the injured party in a civil action.” In Melcher, both the trial court and the appellate division decided the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s Judiciary Law § 487 claims based on the premise that they were governed “by the three-year limitations period in CPLR 214(2).” The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that because “a cause of action for attorney deceit therefore existed as part of New York’s common law before the first New York statute governing attorney deceit was enacted in 1787,” “liability for attorney deceit existed at New York common law prior to 1787. As a result, claims for attorney deceit are subject to the six-year statute of limitations in CPLR 213(1).”

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

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