On May 16, 2018, the appellate court covering Kings County overturned a lower court Judge who had dismissed a legal malpractice claim as being too speculative. In a nutshell, the client building owner hired a law firm to evict residential tenants on four floors. The law firm successfully vacated all tenants on 3 of 4 floors thru motions or settlement over the course of 2-3 years. Claiming that the law firm unreasonably delayed the evictions proceedings, the client sued the law firm for $500,000 in lost rental income. The law firm initially was successful in dismissing this claim as too speculative. The appellate court ruling will allow a jury trial to decide this claim.
The appellate court explained that the courts have long allowed delay damages claims to be heard by a jury. There are three elements necessary to properly allege a delay damage claim in a legal malpractice case: 1) the client must show that the lawyer was responsible for the delay; 2) that the client suffered damages as a result of the delay; and, 3)"provide a rational basis for the court to estimate those damages, although obviously a precise measure is neither possible nor required". Iannucci v Kucker, 2018 NY Slip Op 03514