On July 12, 2018, federal court Judge Stanton from the Southern District (Manhattan) dismissed a legal malpractice complaint because it lacked sufficient detail explaining why the outcome of a case would have been favorable if handled properly by the law firm. The client retained the defendant law firm to represent him in a shareholder's dispute over the operation of a bar in New York City. The dispute was resolved at an arbitration. Not only did the client lose, but the arbitration tribunal recited in its decision that the client admitted to fraudulent conduct and ordered him to account for missing funds. How could any law firm have successfully represented this client who admits to participating in a fraud?
The Court explained that it's not enough to allege that -- "if the lawyer had been more diligent in their representation I would have won." In a legal malpractice complaint, you have to detail HOW and/or WHY the arbitration, trial or transaction would have ended up with a successful outcome if handled properly. (Interestingly, this level of detail is not required in a medical malpractice complaint in New York.) In this case, the Complaint had already been dismissed once before because it lacked the necessary detail to explain how the outcome of the arbitration would have differed if the law firm had argued more aggressively on behalf of the client. As such, the amended complaint was dismissed as being "too speculative" concerning the causation element of a legal malpractice action. Collins v Felder, 2018 WL 3418782