Court of Appeals - Attorney Not Liable Under Judiciary Law 487 On Claim Induced Client to File Frivolous Suit

On March 31, 2020 the Court of Appeals ruled that an attorney who was claimed to have wrongfully induced a client to file a frivolous lawsuit in order to generate a legal fee could not be held liable under New York State Judiciary Law Section 487. A violation of this statute by an attorney is a crime and results in treble damages awarded to a successful plaintiff and recovery of their attorney's fees. In light of these harsh penalties the Court applies a strict standard. The Court stated: "Given the requirement that the conduct involve deceit or collusion and be intentional, liability under the statute does not extend to negligent acts or conduct that constitutes only legal malpractice...." Moreover, the Court stated that a Section 487 claim must be alleged to have occurred - not before an action is filed - but during ongoing litigation.

The plaintiff/client did not allege that the attorney made any fraudulent statements to the Court, only that the attorney made false representations to them regarding their legal rights which induced them to file the suit which had been dismissed.Bill Birds, Inc v. Stein Law Firm, PC, 2020 WL 1521903

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