This is a rare decision from a trial level court involving some of the most serious allegations of intentional wrongdoing by an attorney. Remarkably, the defendant attorney Bahrenberg had been a close friend and attorney of the owners of the corporate plaintiffs for over 20 years. The Oikonomos case is an instructive review of the various causes of action that may be available to a client against an attorney with a cautionary word about unnecessary duplicative claims.

It was claimed the attorney counseled multiple parties to the same transaction with adverse interests in a gross conflict of interest. It was also claimed that the attorney made intentional misreresentations to his clients concerning the legal and financial condition of investments; and, advised third parties to take adverse positions to the detriment of his clients. The Court granted a pre-trial motion to dismiss the fraud and breach of fiduciary duty claims finding that they were "subsumed under the claims for legal malpractice as they all arise from the same sets of alleged facts and actions." Moreover, the Court noted that "a fraud claim will generally not be maintained where the injury and damages sought are the same as those occasioned by the claim of legal malpractice."

However, the Court emphasized the gravity of the allegations and allowed the punitive damage claim and Judiciary Law Section 487 claim to proceed to trial. The potential consequence of these claims is devastating to a defendant. Judiciary Law Section 487 allows an injured client to recover treble damages against an attorney who is "guilty of any deceit or collusion or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive...." Oikonomos v. Bahrenberg, (Sup. Ct. Suffolk County 2013).

To obtain an award of punitive damages, it is necessary to prove more than intentional misconduct; "they are permitted when the conduct evinces a high degree of moral turpitude and demonstrate such wanton dishonesty as to imply criminal indifference to civil obligations."

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 " and "Top New York Settlements." 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 was 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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