The attorney, provides the following summary of a recent legal malpractice lawsuit:
A New York appellate court has affirmed a trial court’s decision denying a lawyer’s motion for summary judgment in a legal malpractice case. In Angeles v. Aronsky, a man was attacked in the entryway to his apartment building.
After the incident, the man hired an attorney to represent him in a premises liability suit against the owners of the building. Under New York law, to succeed in such an action, the victim must prove that the assailants were intruders and not lawfully permitted on the premises. In Massachusetts, the victim has to prove that the assault was the result of negligent security on the premises. Shortly after filing suit, the attorney reached a settlement with the owners of the building without conducting any investigation into the status of the attackers.
After the settlement, the victim brought a legal malpractice action against the attorney for compromising the true settlement value of his case. The attorney moved for summary judgment arguing that the victim could not prove that he would have prevailed in the underlying case, and therefore the attorney’s conduct did not result in any harm. The trial court denied the motion and the victim appealed.
The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision. In order to prevail on his motion, the attorney had to show that the attackers were not intruders and thus a further investigation would have been fruitless. Because the status of the assailants remained a disputed question of fact, the attorney was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Decision: Angeles v. Aronsky