Retainer Agreement Raises Factual Issue On Lawyer's Claim Only Retained to Represent Estate Not Administrator In Personal Capacity

On August 18, 2023, a New York County Supreme Court Justice denied a law firm's motion to dismiss a legal malpractice claim. The plaintiff was the Administrator of his father's Estate and claimed that the legal services provided by the attorney's were careless and untimely causing economic losses. The law firm sought dismissal and argued that they were only retained to represent the estate of plaintiff's father and plaintiff as Administrator-not plaintiff, individually. This argument did not sell well. The Court noted that an engagement letter drafted by the law firm stated: Thank you for retaining Holland & Knight to represent you in connection with the administration of your father's estate." The Court also highlighted a subsequent retainer agreement sent to plaintiff: "Thank you for retaining Holland & Knight LLP to represent you individually as a defendant...." The Court also pointed to third document filed and signed by the law firm purporting to represent the plaintiff individually and as heir to his father's Estate.

These documents were not found conclusive on the privity issue but raised questions of fact on the law firm's claim that their was no actual privity (attorney-client) between the plaintiff, as an individual and the law firm. The Court emphasized that these documents "can reasonably create the impression that H & K was first and foremost representing plaintiff's interests." Accordingly, this legal malpractice claim and lack of an attorney-client relationship defense will be decided at trial by a jury. Kadah v Kadah, 2023 NY Slip Op 32889(U), Index No: 152026/2022

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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