Attorney's Admission of Liability In Apologetic Letter To Client Found Binding On Negligence & Causation

On May 21, 2019 a New York appellate court agreed that when an attorney admits in a letter to the client that he blew the statute of limitations on a property damage claim--you can't take it back with creative defenses. The defendant attorney was retained to prosecute a claim for property damage (between $8,000 and $185,000) to a garage door struck by a car that left the scene of the accident. Unfortunately for the driver of the offending vehicle, a license plate was found by the police lodged in the garage door and the owner was identified. The attorney filed a claim for property damage with Allstate (car owners insurer) and allowed the claim to sit for twelve (12) years. The six year statute of limitations for property damage claims expired without a lawsuit being filed. The plaintiff/client claimed the attorney fraudulently and repeatedly reassured him over the years that the claim was in suit when in fact it was not.

After the client learned that his property damage claim was lost, the attorney wrote a letter of apology and stated that he would "willingly compensate [him] for all actual damages subject to proof and interest since the time of the loss." In opposing the client's motion for summary judgment based on the letter of apology, the attorney raised several defenses: 1) the client never submitted acceptable proof of damages which was the cause of the 12 year delay; 2) there was no evidence the owner of the vehicle was operating it at the time of the accident; 3) the car may have been stolen; 4) the license plate could have been stolen and planted in the garage door; and, (the best one yet) - 5) the driver of the vehicle may have been confronted with an emergency situation. Both the trial court and appellate court swept away all these defenses holding that the attorney had admitted to negligence and conceded that his negligence was the proximate cause of the loss, leaving only the issue of the amount of damages for a jury to decide. Ortiz v Joel J. Turney, LLC    2019 WL 2179258

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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