Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
Bill Birds, Inc. v. Stein Law Firm, P.C.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division granting summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiffs' claim under N.Y. Jud. Law 487(1) against their former attorneys who allegedly induced them to bring a meritless lawsuit in order to generate a legal fee, holding that the suit was properly dismissed. In moving for summary judgment, Defendants argued that Plaintiffs' section 487 claim must be dismissed because Plaintiffs failed to allege any misrepresentations made in the context of ongoing litigation. Supreme Court denied the motion with respect to the section 487 claim, concluding that Plaintiffs raised triable issues of fact. The Appellate Division reversed and granted summary judgment on that claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendants established prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the section 487 claim and that Plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact in response. View "Bill Birds, Inc. v. Stein Law Firm, P.C." on Justia Law
Haar v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co.
The Court of Appeals answered in the negative a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asking whether N.Y. Pub. Health Law 230(11)(b) creates a private right of action for bad faith and malicious reporting to the Office of Professional Medical Conduct, holding that there is not indication that the legislature intended to create a private right of action in section 230(11)(b). Plaintiff, a surgeon, treated four injured patients insured by Defendant and submitted claims to Defendant in connection with each patient. Defendant later filed complaints with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) alleging insurance fraud. After OPMC declined to impose discipline against Plaintiff, Plaintiff commenced this action asserting that Defendant's complaints lacked a good-faith basis in violation of section 230(11)(b) and interposed a separate caused of action for defamation. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that section 230(11)(b) does not imply a private right of action. The federal district court granted the motion. On appeal, the Second Circuit certified the above question to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held that the statutory text and legislative history of the statute do not imply a legislative intent to create a right of action under section 230(11)(b). View "Haar v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Connolly v. Long Island Power Authority
Defendants Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO), and National Grid Electric Services, LLC failed to demonstrate that the actions challenged by Plaintiffs in their amended complaints were governmental in the context of pre-answer, pre-discovery motions to dismiss, and therefore, the intermediate appellate court and Supreme Court properly denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss. In their complaints, Plaintiffs alleged that their property was destroyed by fire as a result of Defendants’ negligent failure to preemptively de-energize the Rockway Peninsula prior to or after Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaints pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3211(a)(7), contending that their actions were governmental and discretionary as a matter of law, and even if their actions were not discretionary, that Plaintiffs’ failure to allege a special duty was a fatal defect. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower courts, holding that, given the procedural posture, Defendants failed to establish as a matter of law that they were acting in a governmental, rather than a proprietary, capacity when engaged in the conduct claimed to have caused Plaintiffs’ injuries. View "Connolly v. Long Island Power Authority" on Justia Law
B.F. v Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, LLP
The statute of limitations for a cause of action permitting parents to recover the extraordinary expenses incurred to care for a disabled infant who, but for a physician’s negligent failure to detect or advise on the risks of impairment, would not have been born runs from the date of birth rather than the date of the alleged negligence. Plaintiffs in both cases gave birth to children through in vitro fertilization treatment using an egg donor. Two of the three children born to the two couples had the Fragile X mutation, a chromosomal abnormality. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants failed timely to screen the egg donor for the Fragile X mutation and that these negligent acts or omissions resulted in the parents incurring extraordinary expenses to care for and treat a child with a disability. Defendants moved to dismiss both complaints, arguing that the extraordinary expenses claims were time-barred because the limitations period runs from the date of the alleged malpractice, which they identified as the date the embryos were implanted in the mothers. Supreme Court denied the motion to dismiss, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because Plaintiffs’ causes of action for extraordinary expenses accrued upon the birth of their children, the claims were timely. View "B.F. v Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, LLP" on Justia Law
Nomura Asset Capital Corp. v. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
Nomura Asset Capital Corporation and Asset Securitization Corporation (Nomura) established a commercial mortgage-backed securities business and engaged the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, LLP (Cadwalader) to confirm that Nomura’s securitized commercial mortgage loans qualified as real estate mortgage investment conduit (REMIC) trusts. When one REMIC securitization, known as the D5 securitization, involved Nomura in federal litigation, Nomura commenced the underlying legal malpractice action against Cadwalader, alleging that Cadwalader failed to provide appropriate legal advice and perform necessary due diligence concerning the REMIC eligibility of the D5 securitization. Cadwalader moved for summary judgment, which Supreme Court denied. The Appellate Division modified the order by dismissing the advice claim and otherwise affirmed. The Court of Appeals modified the Appellate Division order, granted summary judgment to dismiss the legal malpractice in its entirety and otherwise affirmed, holding that Cadwalader established, as a matter of law, that summary judgment and dismissal of the legal malpractice cause of action were merited in this case. View "Nomura Asset Capital Corp. v. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP" on Justia Law
Schoenefeld v. State
Plaintiff, a New Jersey resident who was admitted to the practice of law in New York, maintained her only law office in New Jersey. When Plaintiff learned of the statutory requirement that nonresident attorneys must maintain an office within New York in order to practice in the State under N.Y. Jud. Law 470, Plaintiff commenced this action alleging that Judiciary Law 470 violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked the New York Court of Appeals to set forth the minimum requirements necessary to satisfy the mandate that nonresident attorneys maintain an office within the State “for the transaction of law business” under Judiciary Law 470. The Court of Appeals answered by holding that the statute requires nonresident attorneys to maintain a physical office in New York. View "Schoenefeld v. State" on Justia Law
Grace v. Law
Plaintiff retained Attorneys to pursue a medical malpractice action against the Veteran’s Administration, the University of Rochester, and an opthalmologist. A federal district court disposed of the majority of Plaintiff’s claims on summary judgment. After Plaintiff was informed by Attorneys that he was unlikely to succeed on his remaining claim, Plaintiff discontinued the underlying action. Subsequently, Plaintiff retained new counsel to sue Attorneys for legal malpractice in failing to timely sue the University and the opthalmologist. Defendants argued that Plaintiff was estopped from commencing this action because he failed to appeal the underlying action. Supreme Court denied Attorneys’ motion for summary judgment. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a failure to appeal bars a legal malpractice action only where the client was likely to have succeeded on appeal in the underlying action; and (2) in this case, Attorneys failed to provide sufficient evidence to determine that Plaintiff would have been successful on appeal. View "Grace v. Law" on Justia Law
K2 Inv. Group, LLC v. Am. Guar. & Liab. Ins. Co.
Plaintiffs brought legal malpractice claims against Jeffrey Daniels, American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company’s insured. American Guarantee wrongly refused to defend the claims. A default judgment was entered against Daniels, who assigned his rights against American Guarantee to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs then brought the present action seeking to enforce American Guarantee’s duty to indemnify Daniels for the judgment. Summary judgment was awarded in favor of Plaintiffs. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that American Guarantee’s breach of its duty to defend barred it from relying on policy exclusions as a defense to the present lawsuit. The Court later granted reargument, vacated its prior decision, and reversed the Appellate Division’s order, holding (1) under controlling precedent, American Guarantee was not barred from relying on policy exclusions as a defense; and (2) the applicability of the exclusions American Guarantee relied on presented an issue of fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment.View "K2 Inv. Group, LLC v. Am. Guar. & Liab. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Koch v. Sheehan
The Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) terminated a physician's participation in the Medicaid program on the basis of a Bureau of Professional Medical Conduct (BPMC) consent order, in which the physician pleaded no contest to charges of professional misconduct and agreed to probation. Supreme Court annulled the OMIG's determination. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding (1) the agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously in barring the physician from treating Medicaid patients when the BPMC permitted him to continue to practice; and (2) the OMIG was required to conduct an independent investigation before excluding a physician from Medicaid on the basis of a BPMC consent order. The Court of Appeals affirmed but for another reason, holding (1) the OMIG is authorized to remove a physician from Medicaid in reliance solely on a consent order between the physician and the BMPC, regardless of whether BPMC chooses to suspend the physician's license or OMIG conducts an independent investigation; but (2) because OMIG did not explain why the BPMC consent order caused it to exclude the physician from the Medicaid program, the agency's determination was arbitrary and capricious. View "Koch v. Sheehan" on Justia Law
Sullivan v Harnisch
Plaintiff was a 15% partner in defendant Peconic Partners (hedge fund), as well as Chief Compliance Officer. Plaintiff alleged that he was subsequently fired after a dispute with Peconic Partners' CEO and President (Defendant Harnisch). The gist of plaintiff's claim was that the legal and ethical duties of a securities firm and its compliance officer justified recognizing a cause of action for damages when the compliance officer was fired for objecting to misconduct. The court held in Murphy v American Home Prods. Corp that New York common law did not recognize a cause of action for the wrongful discharge of an at-will employee. Therefore, the court declined in this case to make an exception to that rule for the compliance of a hedge fund. View "Sullivan v Harnisch" on Justia Law