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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: May 3, 2020

Legal Malpractice Claim Dismissed Based on the Attorney-Judgment Rule

On April 23, 2020, the First Department issued a decision in Lloyd’s Syndicate 2987 v. Furman Kornfeld & Brennan, LLP, 2020 NY Slip Op. 02365, holding that the attorney-judgment rule required dismissal of a legal malpractice claim, explaining:

In this legal malpractice action, plaintiffs allege that they sustained damages when they relied on defendants’ negligent advice that they could disclaim coverage of their insured in an underlying malpractice action. In support of their motion to dismiss, defendants properly relied on documentary evidence, including the challenged disclaimer letter and the relevant policy, since their authenticity is undisputed and their contents are essentially undeniable. The disclaimer letter sets forth an analysis of plaintiffs’ right to refuse coverage to their insured on two independent bases. Plaintiffs’ failure to allege with specificity or argue that one of the two bases for defendants’ advice was incorrect, requires dismissal of this legal malpractice action.

Aside from this, defendants’ alleged malpractice concerning other issues is subject to the attorney-judgment rule. Since plaintiffs failed to show that the issues were elementary or subject to settled authority, defendants could not be liable for malpractice based on their prediction of how a court would interpret the policy.

Further, plaintiffs’ failure to explain how it was that any alleged error by defendants prejudiced their defense in the subsequent coverage action also mandates dismissal of the malpractice claim.

(Internal quotations and 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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