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Divorce Malpractice Claim Dismissed Because Of Recitals in Settlement Agreement

The case is Holtzman v. Griffith, 2018 NY Slip Op 04540, decided by the Appellate Division, Second Department.

Holtzman sued for fees and his former client, Griffith, counterclaimed for legal malpractice. The trial court on the basis of an account stated ordered Griffith to pay the legal fees that were due. The trial court dismissed Griffith’s malpractice claim because he had voluntarily settled the underlying divorce case and had agreed that the settlement was fair and equitable.  The explanation:

The plaintiff’s submissions demonstrated that in representing the defendant, who was also the defendant in the divorce action, she exercised the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession, and that the stipulation of settlement executed by the defendant in the divorce action was not the product of any mistakes by the plaintiff (see Schiff v Sallah Law Firm, P.C.,128 AD3d 668, 669). The stipulation of settlement recited, among other things, that the defendant reviewed and understood its terms, had an opportunity to consult with counsel and have the legal and practical effect of the stipulation fully explained to him, executed the stipulation voluntarily, without coercion or pressure of any kind, and believed the stipulation to be fair and reasonable (see Chamberlain, D’Amanda, Oppenheimer & Greenfield, LLP v Wilson, 136 AD3d 1326, 1328Schiff v Sallah Law Firm, P.C., 128 AD3d at 669). In opposition, the defendant failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

I have handled numerous divorce malpractice cases in my career and am available to consult with anyone who believes their divorce had a bad outcome and that the bad outcome was due to a mistake by the lawyer.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

http://www.clintonlaw.net