Senior Trial Partner Peter T. Crean, with the assistance of Partner Michael E. Gallay, recently won an appeal in the Appellate Division, First Department dismissing the plaintiff’s legal malpractice action. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant-attorney failed to timely prosecute his underlying Article 78 proceeding. If timely prosecuted, the plaintiff claimed that his termination from Police Department employment would have been reversed, thereby entitling him to significant disability and pension benefits. In a unanimous decision, the appellate court disagreed with the plaintiff and reasoned that proximate cause was lacking.
Specifically, the appellate court found that even if the Article 78 proceeding was timely prosecuted, the plaintiff still would not have succeeded in overturning his termination from municipal employment. The appellate court also rejected the plaintiff's claim for punitive damages under Judiciary Law § 487 because the record did not reveal a chronic or extreme pattern of legal delinquency. The appellate court likewise affirmed the dismissal of the breach of contract cause of action as duplicative of the legal malpractice claim.