NY: Underlying bankruptcy proceeding
Facts: John Vlahakis retained Mendelson & Associates to advise him in his bankruptcy proceeding. The attorneys assured their client that he would not have to pay the arrears he owed on his home mortgage. Based upon this advice from counsel, Vlahakis did not pay. He then continued to live in his home for seven years without paying mortgage, taxes, and insurance.. Eventually, Vlahakis was required to pay the bank what he owed on his home mortgage. However, he did not provide any evidence to support his claim that this amount was more than the money he saved by living in his home for seven years without paying mortgage, taxes, and insurance.
Issue: Whether summary judgment dismissing a malpractice case was proper when the lawyer in the underlying matter gave a client inaccurate advice?
Ruling: Yes. Summary judgment was properly dismissed because the lawyer demonstrated the client did not sustain any damages due to the inaccurate advice.
Lesson: Even when an attorney makes a clear error and the client relies on that advice to his detriment, if the client cannot prove damages related to the mistake, there will not be an actionable claim for legal malpractice.