Commercial Division Blog

Posted: June 26, 2014 / Categories Commercial, Contracts, Law Firms and Professional Ethics

Breach of Contract Claim Dismissed as Duplicative of Malpractice Claim

On June 17, 2014, Justice Walker of the 8th Judicial District Commercial Division issued a decision in Rich Products Corp. v. Kenyon & Kenyon, LLP, 2014 NY Slip Op. 50937(U), dismissing asserted and prospective claims against a law firm as duplicative of the plaintiff's breach of contract claims.

In Rich Products Corp., the plaintiff asserted a variety of claims against the defendant law firm in connection with its alleged role in the plaintiff's failure to obtain two foreign patents. The decision in Rich Products Corp. addressed several issues; this post focuses only on one: the plaintiff's breach of contract claim.

The court dismissed the breach of contract claim, explaining:

A cause of action for breach of contract relating to a claim of legal malpractice may only be maintained where there is an additional promise by the attorney extending beyond the duty of care an attorney owes his client.

[The plaintiff] alleges that [the defendant] specifically agreed and contracted to perform a specific task and/or obtain a specific result regarding the Invention.

However, [the plaintiff] has failed to sustain its burden of proof regarding these claims.

To the extent [the plaintiff] bases its breach of contract claims on implied promises, such claims are contrary to New York Law.

Finally, [the plaintiff's] breach of contract claims are duplicative of its legal malpractice claims, containing the same allegations of fact, and seeking the same relief.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

This decision is yet another example of the courts' disinclination to allow plaintiffs to assert multiple causes of action based on the same facts.