On April 17, 2019, FKB successfully obtained summary judgment of a high exposure legal malpractice claim in New York County Supreme Court. In the underlying case, a wealthy landlord/developer in Manhattan retained FKB’s client to help him stave off a foreclosure action in connection with a commercial mortgage loan he procured. The loans were secured by certain properties in NYC’s Hudson Yards neighborhood, and were personally guaranteed by the Plaintiff. After a rather contentious, lengthy foreclosure action, Plaintiff lost the properties and was ordered to pay the creditor $28M in a deficiency judgment.
Thereafter, Plaintiff sued FKB’s client for legal malpractice and conflicts of interest. Discovery in this case proved to be extensive and rather contentious, as FKB had to pursue depositions of several well-known, powerful real estate developers. At the conclusion of discovery, FKB moved for summary judgment on grounds that Plaintiff could not establish “but for” proximate cause. Specifically, FKB argued that Plaintiff’s damages were speculative, since he could not establish that FKB’s client caused him to default on the loan, or that the attorney could have taken steps to prevent the creditor from foreclosing and obtaining a deficiency judgment. In its decision, the Court agreed with FKB’s arguments finding that Plaintiff’s allegations were speculative and warranted dismissal based on failure to establish proximate cause.
If you have any questions about this decision, or the defense of attorneys in general, please contact Andrew S. Kowlowitz.