Last week an appellate Court reversed a Queens County Judge and dismissed a legal malpractice complaint due to shortcomings in the client's Complaint. The client retained a worker's compensation attorney to represent him in a claim for benefits arising out of an "on the job injury" when he fell off a ladder. At a hearing, evidence was introduced that plaintiff's injury did not happen on the job but - "rather his injury occurred after he left work when he jumped out of a moving car". Based on the conflicting evidence the Judge denied the plaintiff's claim stating that the injury did not occur on the job and denied all benefits. In response to the loss, the client sued his attorney claiming that he had neglected to conduct adequate discovery and interview witnesses which resulted in the loss of his claim.
The Court granted the dismissal of the legal malpractice case explaining that plaintiff failed to allege specific facts demonstrating that, but for the attorney's carelessness, there would have been a favorable outcome at the workers compensation hearing. In other words, the plaintiff must at least identify the witnesses who were available to support his claim at the Workers Compensation hearing, and describe how their testimony would have persuaded the judge that this was indeed an "on the job injury". Conclusory and speculative claims of legal malpractice are routinely dismissed. Also, it would have been prudent to submit affidavits from these witnesses to avoid a dismissal prior to conducting any discovery. Denisco v Uysal, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 04118