A New York appeals court recently sanctioned a plaintiff’s attorney in a legal malpractice case as a result of the court’s finding that the legal malpractice plaintiff’s attorney continued to pursue a legal malpractice claim despite “clear evidence” from the record that the claim had no basis.
In the underlying case, the plaintiff had been pursuing several claims against individuals and a public relations firm for the mismanagement and subsequent loss of fine art that the plaintiff owned or was authorized to sell. Plaintiff initially retained attorney Eric Vaughn-Flam to pursue the claim in federal court. The relationship between plaintiff and Vaughn-Flam eventually deteriorated and resulted in Vaughn-Flam withdrawing from representing plaintiff in the federal case. Plaintiff then retained successor counsel who voluntarily withdrew some of the claims that had been alleged by Vaughn-Flam in the initial complaint and never sought a default judgment against an individual defendant who had failed to appear in the case. The case eventually settled.
The plaintiff then filed a legal malpractice claim against Vaughn-Flam in New York state court, alleging that Vaughn-Flam had voluntarily withdrawn all viable claims in the complaint. Vaughn-Flam opposed the case, arguing that it was successor counsel who had withdrawn claims and who had failed to pursue a default judgment against the individual defendant. The appellate court found that the record supported Vaughn-Flam’s opposition and made the rare ruling to impose sanctions on the plaintiff’s attorney.
If you think you have a legal malpractice claim, contact the Patterson Law Firm for guidance on how to pursue it.