Sayeh v. 66 Madison Ave. Apt. Corp., 2010 NY Slip Op 03844 (1st Dept. May 6, 2010)
Underlying Commercial Transaction
Facts: Plaintiff, an owner of seven apartments in a coop, sought to purchase an eighth unit. Plaintiff’s application to purchase the eight unit was disapproved by the coop board members, despite an exclusion in the proprietary lease for a stockholder-to-stockholder exemption from the requirements of board approval for assignment of shares. Plaintiff, subsequently, commenced an action for legal malpractice and intentional tort against the coop’s attorney, Silberman.
Issue: Was Silberman liable to Sayeh for alleged damages sustained by the coop’s wrongful disapproval of his application to purchase an additional unit?
Ruling: No. The Court dismissed Sayeh’s claim for legal malpractice against Silberman, since “there [was] no evidence of privity or near privity to support the imposition of [such] a claim”. The Court also dismissed the claim for intentional tort, since there was no evidence of “collusion, malice, or fraud to warrant the imposition of liability”.
Lesson: An attorney will not be held liable to a third-party with whom he has no attorney-client relationship, nor any reason to suspect that the third-party is relying on him for advice.