730 J&J, LLC v. Polizzotto & Polizzotto, Esqs., Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department, January 12, 2010
Facts: Plaintiff commenced a legal malpractice action to recover damages for the defendant attorneys’ alleged failure to secure a deficiency judgment. Defendants argued the action was time barred under New York’s three year statute of limitations. Plaintiff argued that the statute of limitations was tolled during the time Defendants continued to represent them in the underlying matter.
Issue: Is the statute of limitations for legal malpractice matters tolled during the time the allegedly negligent attorney continues his representation?
Ruling: Yes. A cause of action for legal malpractice accrues on the date the malpractice was committed. Nevertheless, under the doctrine of "continuous representation," the statute of limitations is tolled while the attorney continues to represent the client in the same matter in which the malpractice allegedly occurred:
The parties have a mutual understanding that further representation is needed with respect to the matter underlying the malpractice claim.
Lesson: In New York, the three year statute of limitations in legal malpractice actions will be tolled where the purportedly negligent attorney continued his representation in the underlying matter after the malpractice was committed.