Statute of limitations: Court dismissed client’s legal malpractice action.

In Flintlock Constr. Services, LLC v Rubin, Fiorella & Friedman, LLP, 188 AD3d 530 [1st Dept 2020], the court dismissed the client’s legal malpractice action based on the statute of limitations, holding:

Plaintiff commenced this action on September 17, 2018, alleging that defendant committed legal malpractice by entering into the stipulations. Plaintiff alleges that entering into the 2007 stipulation, which shifted the responsibility for Well–Come’s defense from plaintiff’s insurer to plaintiff alone, was professional negligence. In December 2018 defendant moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(5). The motion court ruled that the complaint was time-barred because the statute of limitations had begun to run on July 29, 2013, the date on which the jury rendered its verdict, which was the date on which plaintiff’s damages were reasonably calculable. We affirm.

“On a motion to dismiss a cause of action pursuant to CPLR § 3211(a)(5) as barred by the statute of limitations, a defendant must establish, prima facie, that the time within which to sue has expired. Once that showing has been made, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to raise a question of fact as to whether the statute of limitations has been tolled, an exception to the limitations period is applicable, or the plaintiff actually commenced the action within the applicable limitations period.” (Quinn v. McCabe, Collins, McGeough & Fowler, LLP, 138 A.D.3d 1085, 30 N.Y.S.3d 288 [2d Dept. 2016] [internal quotation marks omitted] ).

“An action to recover damages for an attorney’s malpractice must be commenced within three years from accrual (see CPLR § 214[6]). A legal malpractice claim accrues when all the facts necessary to the cause of action have occurred and an injured party can obtain relief in court. In most cases, this accrual time is measured from the day an actionable injury occurs [or when the damages are sufficiently calculable], even if the aggrieved party is then ignorant of the wrong or injury.” (McCoy v v. Feinman, 99 N.Y.2d 295, 301, 755 N.Y.S.2d 693, 785 N.E.2d 714 [2002] [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]; King Tower Realty Corp. v. G & G Funding Corp., 163 A.D.3d 541, 79 N.Y.S.3d 289 [2d Dept..2018]).

Any damages arising from defendant’s alleged malpractice were sufficiently calculable for pleading purposes when the jury rendered its verdict on July 29, 2013, and the action commenced on September 17, 2018 is time-barred.

Plaintiff has not shown that the statute was tolled or that plaintiff was actively misled or prevented in some extraordinary way from timely commencing a malpractice action (see Yarbro v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 140 A.D.3d 668, 668, 33 N.Y.S.3d 727 [1st Dept. 2016]; Jang Ho Choi v. Beautri Realty Corp., 135 A.D.3d 451, 22 N.Y.S.3d 431 [1st Dept. 2016]).

R. A. Klass
Your Court Street Lawyer

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