Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke

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YOU CAN SETTLE AND THEN SUE YOUR LAWYER

There is a well settled general rule that permits a client to sue their lawyer for an inadequate settlement when it is claimed that the settlement "was effectively compelled by the mistakes of counsel". Under these circumstances it can be argued that the attorney was more interested in making a quick buck to avoid a lengthy litigation and the risk of losing at trial.

The client, Angeles, retained the attorney, Aronsky, to sue the landlord of his apartment building after he was assaulted in the lobby by three unknown intruders seen leaving the building carrying baseball bats. It was claimed that these intruders gianed access to the building through an unsecured side entrance. Angeles had both his arms broken, suffered a fractured jaw and fractured ribs. Angeles, a waiter with a sixth grade education and no legal experience, retained Aronsky to evaluate his claim and provide advice on his claim against the landlord for failing to adequately secure the premises.

Before filing suit and without conducting a site investigation or interview of the superintendent and after having briefly met with his client one time, Aronsky conveyed a settlement offer of $8,500 and told his client Angeles that it was "a difficult liability case". Aronsky correctly noted that he was legally obliged to convey the settlement offer and that the client voluntarily signed off on the settlement. Though attorney Aronsky conceded it was a low settlement, he contended that the client was now second guessing his proper exercise of professional judgment. A mere error in judgment is not actionable provided the attorney chose one reasonable course of action amongst other reasonable alternatives. But on a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the Court found that there were issues of fact requiring a jury trial. The attorney argued that indeed this would have been a difficult case to prove because there were no prior similar incidents at the building and no proof that entry was made through an unsecured door. The Court still held that there was an issue of fact for a jury trial on whether the attorney adequately informed himself and his client of the available facts prior to settlement.

Based on these factual issues it was held that the client's legal malpractice case should not be dismissed despite his having agreed to the settlement. A jury trial will be held and that jury will decide whether: 1) the attorney was adequately informed about the facts and circumstances surrounding the assault; 2) the client was properly informed of the risks and benefits of the $8,500 settlement; 3) "but for" the negligence of the attorney the client would have prevailed in his claim against the landlord and recovered more than $8,500 pre-suit settlement. Angeles v. Aronsky, 2013 N.Y. Slip Op. 02454

Ronald C. Burke, Esq

Trial Attorney with 30+ Years of Experience Attorney Ronald C. Burke, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience and has focused his career on representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and legal malpractice. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and has won many seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients over the years, including many case victories listed among the largest in the history of the New York State. He has been featured in the news and is a regular lecturer for the New York County Lawyers Association, as well as having lectured before the New York State Bar Association. Ron is also an attorney with Kelner & Kelner, a New York personal injury law firm. Awards and Accolades Mr. Burke's awards and accolades are many. Among them, he has been included in New York Super Lawyers® each year since 2010, and he has received the highest-possible AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. Verdict Search, a part of the New York Law Journal, frequently recognizes his notable successes after winning some of the highest settlements and verdicts in past years. He was also featured in their list of the "Top New York Verdicts of 2011" and "Top New York Settlements of 2012." He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is licensed to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. When Attorney Burke is not handling legal malpractice cases, he is highly involved in the local community. He is a member of the Village of Rockville Centre Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the local school board and as Chairman of the local Zoning Board. Learn more about Attorney Burke and how he can skillfully handle your malpractice case by contacting the Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke, Esq. right away to schedule your complimentary case evaluation. Our firm is here to help! Contact a New York Legal Malpractice Attorney Our firm provides each client's case with thorough preparation and aggressive representation, ensuring that you win the best possible results for your case whether it is settled or goes to trial. As a seasoned trial lawyer, Mr. Burke can provide the strong and relentless representation you need to establish negligence in a legal malpractice case and to recover any damages you may have suffered. Our firm can recover compensation for pre-trial and trial malpractice, violations of fee arrangements, loss of income, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us today!

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