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You can’t sue the mediator for legal malpractice

Plaintiff and his wife entered into a post-nuptial agreement. They eventually retained a mediator to assist the negotiations. Plaintiff sued the mediator for legal malpractice. His case was dismissed because he had his own lawyers and because the mediator was not his attorney. The court explained:

Goldstein also produced documentary evidence that utterly refutes plaintiff’s claim that an attorney-client relationship existed. Plaintiff’s complaint (Goldstein’s counsel, exh A) attaches a copy of the post-nuptial agreement signed by both plaintiff and Comstock. Paragraph 1.1 of the post-nuptial agreement states that “Each party acknowledges that his or her separate legal counsel has examined the attached financial information, has advised him or her with respect to same, and that each party fully understands the contents of such financial information of the other” (id.). Paragraph 1.2 states that “Each party acknowledges that: (a) he or she has had legal counsel of his or her own selection who advised him or her fully with respect to his or her rights in and to the property and income of the other and with respect to the effect of this Agreement and that such party understands such advice” (id.).

This agreement makes clear that each party consulted with his or her own attorney before signing the agreement. Further, plaintiff’s complaint supports this conclusion. Plaintiff alleges that defendants Fleischer and Berkman Bottger (the firm) were retained by plaintiff on or about March 22, 2013 to “review the Post-Nuptial Agreement drafted by Defendant Lori H. Goldstein” (plaintiff’s complaint ΒΆ 51). Clearly, plaintiff did have his own individual counsel review the agreement before he signed it.

This decision is correct and, frankly, somewhat necessary if anyone is work as a mediator in a divorce case or in a post-nuptial setting.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

Source: Barrett v. Goldstein, 2017 NY Slip Op 30010 – NY: Supreme Court 2017 – Google Scholar

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