On July 18, 2018, the appellate court for Queens County agreed that a client who signed a settlement agreement resolving his divorce action couldn't sue his attorney by claiming: 1) he was too heavily medicated to understand what he signed; and, 2) the attorney didn't properly investigate the existence of all marital assets. The Court held that the client had a full and fair opportunity to prove these claims (he previously raised) during the divorce proceeding when he lost a motion to vacate or overturn the stipulation of settlement.
It was noted by the trial judge in denying the motion to vacate the settlement, that when the client agreed to the settlement he was asked - under oath - if he read it, understood it, had all his questions answered by his attorney, and was not under the influence of any medications - he said ”yes” to all. The client also testified in the divorce proceeding that he was satisfied with his attorney's services. Lastly, the exact same settlement agreement was explained to the client by at least two prior attorney's he retained and terminated before the current attorney's he was now suing.
Since the exact same issues raised in the legal malpractice action had been already been asserted, litigated and lost by the client in the context of his unsuccessful motion to vacate the divorce settlement, it was fair to dismiss his malpractice claim. You don't get two bites of the apple or a do-over, unless you didn't have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the exact same issue. In legalese, it's called the doctrine of collateral estoppel. Karakash v Trakas, 2018 WL 3450202