Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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
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
Matter of Baker v Poughkeepsie City School Dist.
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
In the Matter of Eddy Marte
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.
Bessemer Trust Company, N.A. v. Francis S. Branin, Jr.
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.