Court reiterated the rule regarding the continuous representation doctrine.

In Tulino v Hiller, P.C., 202 AD3d 1132, 1135 [2d Dept 2022], the court reiterated the rule regarding the continuous representation doctrine, holding:

The statute of limitations for a cause of action to recover damages for legal malpractice is three years (see CPLR 214[6]; DeStaso v. Condon Resnick, LLP, 90 A.D.3d 809, 812, 936 N.Y.S.2d 51), which accrues at the time the malpractice is committed (see Shumsky v. Eisenstein, 96 N.Y.2d 164, 166, 726 N.Y.S.2d 365, 750 N.E.2d 67; Stein Indus., Inc. v. Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP, 149 A.D.3d 788, 789, 51 N.Y.S.3d 183). “ ‘However, pursuant to the doctrine of continuous representation, the time within which to sue on the claim is tolled until the attorney’s continuing representation of the client with regard to the particular matter terminates’ ” (Stein Indus., Inc. v. Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP, 149 A.D.3d at 789, 51 N.Y.S.3d 183, quoting Aqua–Trol Corp. v. Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., 144 A.D.3d 956, 957, 42 N.Y.S.3d 56). “ ‘For the doctrine to apply, there must be clear indicia of an ongoing, continuous, developing, and dependent relationship between the client and the attorney’ ” (Tantleff v. Kestenbaum & Mark, 131 A.D.3d 955, 956, 15 N.Y.S.3d 840, quoting Beroza v. Sallah Law Firm, P.C., 126 A.D.3d 742, 743, 5 N.Y.S.3d 297).


Richard A. Klass, Esq.
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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.comcreate new email with any questions.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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Scales of justice illustrating article about legal malpractice.

Legal malpractice context…continuous representation doctrine…generally limited to…a specific legal matter…

In Goodman v Weiss, Zarett, Brofman, Sonnenklar & Levy, P.C., 199 AD3d 659, 661-62 [2d Dept 2021], court affirmed the dismissal the client’s malpractice action as time-barred, holding:

The plaintiff contends that the defendant’s malpractice consisted of improperly negotiating his separation from his previous employer and his new employment contract with the hospitals. However, an action alleging legal malpractice must be commenced within three years from the date of accrual (see CPLR 214 [6]). A claim accrues when the malpractice is committed, not when the client discovers it (see Shumsky v Eisenstein, 96 NY2d 164, 166 [2001]). “Causes of action alleging legal malpractice which would otherwise be time-barred are timely if the doctrine of continuous representation applies” (DeStaso v Condon Resnick, LLP, 90 AD3d 809, 812 [2011]). “In the legal malpractice context, the continuous representation doctrine tolls the statute of limitations where there is a mutual understanding of the need for further representation on the specific subject matter underlying the malpractice claim” (id. at 812). Application of the continuous representation doctrine is generally “limited to the course of representation concerning a specific legal matter . . . ; [t]he concern, of course, is whether there has been continuous [representation], and not merely a continuing relation” between the client and the lawyer (Shumsky v Eisenstein, 96 NY2d at 168 [internal quotation marks omitted]).

Contrary to the plaintiff’s contention, the legal malpractice cause of action at issue was time-barred under CPLR 214 (6), and the continuous representation doctrine did not toll the statute of limitations. That doctrine “tolls the running of the statute of limitations on a cause of action against a professional defendant only so long as the defendant continues to represent the plaintiff[s] in connection with the particular transaction which is the subject of the action and not merely during the continuation of a general professional relationship” (Maurice W. Pomfrey & Assoc., Ltd. v Hancock & Estabrook, LLP, 50 AD3d 1531, 1533 [2008] [internal quotation marks omitted]). Although the plaintiff alleges that the defendant continued to provide legal services to him between January 2011 and November 2013, he did not seek or obtain the defendant’s legal services at any time during that period and, when the plaintiff did subsequently engage the defendant’s legal services, that engagement was with regard to the performance of distinct services related to a different subject matter. Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly determined that the continuous representation toll was inapplicable and granted that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to dismiss the legal malpractice cause of action as time-barred.


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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.comcreate new email with any questions.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

© 2022 Richard A. Klass

Scales of justice illustrating article about legal malpractice.

Court held that there were questions of fact regarding the continuous representation toll.

In Ray-Roseman v Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, LLP, 197 AD3d 944 [4th Dept 2021], the court held that there were questions of fact regarding the continuous representation toll of the statute of limitations, holding:

The statute of limitations for a legal malpractice claim is three years (see CPLR 214 [6]; McCoy v. Feinman, 99 N.Y.2d 295, 301, 755 N.Y.S.2d 693, 785 N.E.2d 714 [2002]). Here, plaintiffs correctly concede that defendants met their initial burden of establishing that the malpractice claim insofar as it related to the 2014 loan transaction was commenced beyond the three-year statute of limitations (see generally Rider v. Rainbow Mobile Home Park, LLP, 192 A.D.3d 1561, 1561-1562, 145 N.Y.S.3d 246 [4th Dept. 2021]; U.S. Bank N.A. v. Brown, 186 A.D.3d 1038, 1039, 130 N.Y.S.3d 146 [4th Dept. 2020]). Thus, the burden shifted to plaintiffs to raise a triable issue of fact whether “the statute of limitations was tolled or otherwise inapplicable, or whether … plaintiff[s] actually commenced the action within the applicable limitations period” (U.S. Bank N.A., 186 A.D.3d at 1039, 130 N.Y.S.3d 146 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see generally Rider, 192 A.D.3d at 1562, 145 N.Y.S.3d 246).

We conclude that plaintiffs, in opposition, raised a triable issue of fact whether the continuous representation doctrine applied to toll the statute of limitations with respect to the malpractice claim insofar as it related to the 2014 loan transaction (see generally Carbone v. Brenizer, 148 A.D.3d 1806, 1807, 50 N.Y.S.3d 783 [4th Dept. 2017]). The continuous representation doctrine tolls the limitations period “where there is a mutual understanding of the need for further representation on the specific subject matter underlying the malpractice claim” (McCoy, 99 N.Y.2d at 306, 755 N.Y.S.2d 693, 785 N.E.2d 714), and “ ‘where the continuing representation pertains specifically to [that] matter’ ” (International Electron Devices [USA] LLC v. Menter, Rudin & Trivelpiece, P.C., 71 A.D.3d 1512, 1513, 898 N.Y.S.2d 388 [4th Dept. 2010], quoting Shumsky v. Eisenstein, 96 N.Y.2d 164, 168, 726 N.Y.S.2d 365, 750 N.E.2d 67 [2001]). Here, plaintiffs submitted communication between the Florida attorney and defendants in which the Florida attorney indicated that defendants’ role as New York counsel included “enforcement” of the 2014 loan transaction documents. Moreover, the 2014 loan transaction and the foreclosure proceedings were close in time, as evidenced by plaintiffs’ submission of defendants’ supplemental billing invoices for legal services, which demonstrated a representation from the loan transaction to the foreclosure proceeding without a break. Thus, we conclude that questions of fact exist regarding the extent of defendants’ representation of plaintiffs and, more specifically, whether “enforcement” of the loan documents contemplated a continued representation until the loan was paid in full and the transaction completed.

 


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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.comcreate new email with any questions.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

© 2021 Richard A. Klass

Scales of justice illustrating article about legal malpractice.

Court denied dismissal of the client’s legal malpractice claim based on the statute of limitations.

In Golden Jubilee Realty, LLC v Castro, 196 AD3d 680 [2d Dept 2021], the court denied dismissal of the client’s legal malpractice claim based on the statute of limitations, holding:

“In moving to dismiss a cause of action pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(5) as barred by the applicable statute of limitations, the moving defendant bears the initial burden of demonstrating, prima facie, that the time within which to commence the cause of action has expired. The burden then shifts to the plaintiff to raise a question of fact as to whether the statute of limitations is tolled or is otherwise inapplicable” (Stein Indus., Inc. v. Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP, 149 A.D.3d 788, 789, 51 N.Y.S.3d 183 [citations omitted]). “An action to recover damages for legal malpractice must be commenced within three years after the accrual of the cause of action” (Bullfrog, LLC v. Nolan, 102 A.D.3d 719, 719–720, 959 N.Y.S.2d 212; 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’ ” (McCoy v. Feinman, 99 N.Y.2d 295, 301, 755 N.Y.S.2d 693, 785 N.E.2d 714, quoting Ackerman v. Price Waterhouse, 84 N.Y.2d 535, 541, 620 N.Y.S.2d 318, 644 N.E.2d 1009).


Richard A. Klass, Esq.
Your Court Street Lawyer

#CourtStreetLawyer #legalmalpractice #statuteoflimitations

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.comcreate new email with any questions.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

© 2021 Richard A. Klass

Scales of justice illustrating article about legal malpractice.

Non-arbitrable issue inextricably intertwined with an arbitrable issue

The First Department, in Protostorm, Inc. v Foley & Lardner LLP, 193 AD3d 486, 487 [1st Dept 2021], held that a non-arbitrable issue can be decided in an arbitration when the issue is inextricably intertwined with the arbitrable issue. The court held:

Where there is no substantial question whether a valid agreement [to arbitrate] was made or complied with, . . . the court shall direct the parties to arbitrate” and its order “shall operate to stay a pending . . . action” (CPLR 7503 [a] [emphasis added]). Once a valid arbitration agreement is identified, an arbitration should only be stayed “when the sole matter sought to be submitted to arbitration is clearly beyond the arbitrator’s power” (Matter of Silverman [Benmor Coats], 61 NY2d 299, 309 [1984] [emphasis added]). Further, where “arbitrable and nonarbitrable claims are inextricably interwoven, the proper course is to stay judicial proceedings pending completion of the arbitration, particularly where . . . the determination of issues in arbitration may well dispose of nonarbitrable matters” (Cohen v Ark Asset Holdings, 268 AD2d 285, 286 [1st Dept 2000]; see also Lake Harbor Advisors, LLC v Settlement Servs. Arbitration & Mediation, Inc., 175 AD3d 479 [2d Dept 2019]; Matter of Monotube Pile Corp. v Pile Found. Constr. Corp., 269 AD2d 531 [2d Dept 2000]).

There is no dispute that there is a valid agreement between the parties to arbitrate any dispute regarding unpaid fees. Thus, the court must compel arbitration of defendants’ claim for unpaid fees and stay this action pending completion of the arbitration (CPLR 7503 [a]). Moreover, because plaintiff’s nonarbitrable malpractice claim is inextricably intertwined with the arbitrable claim for unpaid fees, the proper course is to stay the action pending completion of the arbitration (see Cohen, 268 AD2d at 286 **2 ; Lake Harbor Advisors, LLC, 175 AD3d at 479; Monotube Pile Corp., 269 AD2d at 531).

To the extent plaintiff argues that it cannot be forced to arbitrate its malpractice claim because it did not explicitly agree to do so, both the First and Second Departments have clearly found that a nonarbitrable issue can be decided in an arbitration when it is inextricably intertwined with an arbitrable issue, particularly where, as here, the determination of the arbitrable unpaid fees claim may dispose of the nonarbitrable malpractice claim (see Cohen, 268 AD2d at 286; Lake Harbor Advisors, LLC, 175 AD3d at 480; Monotube Pile Corp., 269 AD2d at 531-532).

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Scales of justice illustrating article about legal malpractice.