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Commercial Division Blog

Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: May 21, 2020

Legal Malpractice Claim Dismissed for Failure to Allege Facts Showing That Defendants’ Alleged Negligence Damaged Plaintiff

On April 29, 2020, the Second Department issued a decision in Kahlon v. DeSantis, 2020 NY Slip Op. 02464, holding that a legal malpractice claim was properly dismissed because of the plaintiff’s failure to allege facts showing that the defendants’ alleged negligence damaged the plaintiff, explaining:

To state a cause of action to recover damages for legal malpractice, a plaintiff must allege that the attorney failed to exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession, and that the attorney’s breach of duty proximately caused the plaintiff actual and ascertainable damages. A plaintiff need only plead allegations from which damages attributable to the defendant’s malpractice might be reasonably inferred. However, a complaint in a legal malpractice action will be dismissed pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) where it fails to plead specific factual allegations demonstrating that, but for the defendant’s alleged negligence, there would have been a more favorable outcome in the underlying proceeding or that the plaintiff would not have incurred any damages.

Here, we agree with the Supreme Court’s determination granting that branch of the defendants’ motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the cause of action alleging legal malpractice. Accepting as true the facts alleged in the complaint, and according the plaintiffs the benefit of every favorable inference, the conclusory allegations of the complaint failed to adequately plead specific facts to establish that, but for the defendants’ alleged negligent conduct, the outcome in the underlying action would have been any more favorable to the plaintiffs, or that the plaintiffs would not have incurred any damages. Accordingly, the complaint failed to state a cause of action to recover damages for legal malpractice.

(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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