Settlement of Litigation Found To Be A Waiver of Legal Malpractice Claim
On August 7, 2019, an appellate court reversed a Nassau County Supreme Court Justice and agreed to dismiss a legal malpractice claim based on a claim that the attorney's malpractice compelled it to settle a lawsuit. The underlying case was a claim for damage to a commercial building in Port Washington owned by the client against T-Mobile for $3,400,000. The damage to the building was caused by the installation of a T-Mobile cell tower that was deemed illegal and dangerous by the local municipality. The case settled at trial for approximately $90,000 of which $20,000 was paid by the project manager (hired by T-Mobile to oversee installation) who was inadvertently omitted from an amended complaint. The client claimed that the attorney's failure to reassert a claim against T-Mobile's project manager compelled them to accept an inadequate settlement. There was no discussion of T-Mobile's liability for the acts of the project manager it hired.
In addition to the alleged loss of recovering the whole $3,400,000, the client sought a return of $500,000 in legal fees paid to the attorney during the litigation. Relying on the trial transcript from the lawsuit complained of, the appellate court dismissed the legal malpractice claim finding that the client had testified under oath before the trial judge: 1) that they had discussed the settlement terms with their attorney (now the legal malpractice defendant) and understood its terms; 2) that they had no questions about the terms of the settlement; 3) that they entered into the settlement freely and without coercion or undue influence; and, 4) they were satisfied with their legal representation. Glenwayne Development Corp. v James J. Corbett, P.C., 2019 WL 3679644
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