Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals

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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

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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

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This case arose when the superintendent of the school district preferred eight charges of misconduct and/or incompetence against petitioner, then the business manager for the school district. At issue was whether persons who have testified in a Civil Service 75 disciplinary hearing were required to disqualify themselves from subsequently acting upon any of the charges related to that hearing. The court held that, because the testimony of the testifying witnesses, concerning the charges levied pursuant to section 75, rendered them personally involved in the disciplinary process, disqualification was necessary. View "Matter of Baker v Poughkeepsie City School Dist." on Justia Law

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In a memorandum opinion, the court addressed whether defense counsel gave implied consent to a mistrial. The court held that there was ample basis on the record for the trial court to conclude that defendants agreed that a mistrial on the undecided charges was the appropriate course of action. The court also held that, because it found no basis to disturb the Appellate Division's factual finding of implied consent, it had no occasion to address the People's alternative argument that there was manifest necessity for the mistrial.

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Plaintiff sued a former employee after a number of the former employee's clients left plaintiff's wealth management and investment advisory firm for the firm that the former employee currently works at. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit certified the following question for the court: "What degree of participation in a new employer's solicitation of a former employer's client by a voluntary seller of that client's good will constitutes improper solicitation?" In answering the certified question, the court continued to apply its precedents in Von Breman v. MacMonnies and Mohawk Maintenance Co. v. Kessler and held that the "implied covenant" barred a seller of "good will" from improperly soliciting his former clients. The court also held that, while a seller may not contact his former clients directly, he may, "in response to inquiries" made on a former client's own initiative, answer factual questions. The court further held that the circumstances where a client exercising due diligence requested further information, a seller may assist his new employer in the "active development... of a plan" to respond to that client's inquires. Should that plan result in meeting with a client, a seller's "largely passive" role at such a meeting did not constitute improper solicitation in violation of the "implied covenant." As such, a seller or his new employer may then accept the trade of a former client.