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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: January 20, 2021

Former Client Can Bring Breach of Contract as Well as Malpractice Claims Against Counsel

On January 7, 2021, the First Department issued a decision in Bison Capital Corp. v. Hunton & Williams LLP, 2021 NY Slip Op. 00082, holding that a former client can bring breach of contract, as well as malpractice, claims against counsel, explaining:

In light of the basis for the court’s ruling in the underlying action, plaintiff’s allegations of malpractice all fall under either the attorney judgment rule or the case within a case doctrine.

With regard to the breach of contract claims, contrary to plaintiff’s assertion, the retainer agreement does not promise a particular result. The failure of a particular partner to attend depositions cannot be tied to any particular outcome of the case, and damages from that alleged breach are purely speculative.

However, plaintiff’s allegation, in its president’s affidavit, that he expressly instructed defendant to place liens on the judgment debtor’s assets, states a claim for breach of contract. While the failure to identify when or to whom the instruction was given may raise issues of credibility with regard to the allegation, on a motion addressed to the pleading, this was sufficient.

(Internal citations omitted).

We both bring and defend professional malpractice claims and other claims relating to the duties of professionals such as lawyers, accountants and architects to their clients. Contact us if you have questions regarding such claims or appeals of such claims.

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