Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke



Absence Of Written Retainer Agreement Does Not Rule Out Attorney-Client Relationship

On June 30, 2021, the Appellate Division, Second Department overruled a Nassau County Justice and held that a legal malpractice claim could not be dismissed prior to discovery, simply because there was no written retainer agreement. The plaintiff had defaulted on a real estate mortgage resulting in a judgment of foreclosure. The property was sold prior to an auction and the defendant attorney attended the closing on behalf of the buyer, drafted the deeds and acted as the settlement agent--all while the plaintiff and her family continued to occupy the premises. The defendant attorney emphasized that the only one who paid him for his services was the buyer of the property where plaintiff resided.

The defendant attorney claimed he thought the holdover plaintiff was being represented at the closing by the broker. He maintained that he had never represented or given advice to the plaintiff. Nevertheless, the appellate court explained why a motion to dismiss was premature and should not have been granted: "An attorney-client relationship may arise even in the absence of a written retainer agreement, and a court must look to the words and actions of the parties to determine whether such a relationship exists." The defendant attorney will get another chance to move for summary judgment at the conclusion of discovery - or - plead his defense to a jury at trial. Edelman v Berman, 2021 NY Slip Op 04120

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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