In New York, violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, do not, absent more, provide a basis for a legal malpractice claim

In Sebco Dev., Inc.; 178TH STREET HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND COMPANY, INC.; 479 COURTLANDT AVENUE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND CORPORATION; CROTONA PARTNERS L.P.; ERMA CAVA HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND COMPANY, INC.; E.C. HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND COMPANY, INC.; FILOMENA GARDENS HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND COMPANY, INC.; FOX STREET HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND CORPORATION; HUNTS POINT HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND CORPORATION; PIO/VIP L.P.; ROSINA ASSOCIATES L.P.; SEBCO HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND COMPANY, INC.; TIFFANY GARDENS, L.P.; TIMPSON HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FUND CORPORATION; WILLIS AVENUE ASSOCIATES, L.P., Plaintiff(s), v Siegel & Reiner, LLP AND IRWIN SIEGEL, ESQ., Defendant(s)., 2024 NY Slip Op 50292(U), 10 [Sup Ct Mar. 20, 2024], the court granted the motion to dismiss the legal malpractice cause action, holding:

It is well settled that in New York, violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, do not, absent more, provide a basis for a legal malpractice claim against an attorney or firm (Doscher v Meyer, 177 AD3d 697, 699 [2d Dept 2019] [”In addition, a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, in itself, does not give rise to a private cause of action against an attorney or law firm.“]; Cohen v Kachroo, 115 AD3d 512, 513 [1st Dept 2014] [”To the extent that plaintiff seeks to allege malpractice based on a violation of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct, such an alleged violation does not, without more, support a malpractice claim.“]; Kallman v Krupnick, 67 AD3d 1093, 1096 [3d Dept 2009]; Arkin Kaplan LLP v Jones, 42 AD3d 362, 366 [1st Dept 2007]; Weintraub v Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin, Krim, & Ballon, 172 AD2d 254, 254 [1st Dept 1991]). Accordingly, a conflict of interest, even if it amounts to a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, without more, will not give rise to claim of legal malpractice (Sumo Container Sta., Inc. v Evans, Orr, Pacelli, Norton & Laffan, P.C., 278 AD2d 169, 170 [1st Dept 2000]; Lavanant v Gen. Acc. Ins. Co. of Am., 212 AD2d 450, 451 [1st Dept 1995]). However, if the conflict of interest amounts to a breach of the duty of care and it is alleged or proven that damages were proximately caused by the breach, then such conflict is tantamount to legal malpractice (Esposito v Noto, 132 AD3d 944, 945 [2d Dept 2015] [”While a conflict of interest amounting to a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct does not, in and of itself, amount to malpractice, liability can follow where the client can show that he or she suffered actual damage as a result of the conflict“ (internal quotation marks omitted).]; Tabner v Drake, 9 AD3d 606, 610 [3d Dept 2004]).


Richard A. Klass, Esq.
Your Court Street Lawyer

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Richard A. Klass, Esq., maintains a law firm engaged in civil litigation at 16 Court Street, 28th Floor, Brooklyn, New York. He may be reached at (718) COURT●ST or RichKlass@courtstreetlaw.com with any questions.

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