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NY: Case Within the Case: The Great Excuser for Lawyer Carelessness?

Yousian v. Eisenberg, 34 A.D.3d 228 (2006)

NY Underlying Medical Malpractice Action

Student Contributor: Ally Shuster

Facts: Plaintiff went to hospital complaining of gastrointestinal pain. Over the next few months, Plaintiff underwent a series of tests in order to diagnose his condition. He underwent a sonogram, the results of which showed that he had stones in his gallbladder. Subsequently, he underwent surgery and was left with debilitating pain that he alleges to be a result of the surgery. Plaintiff retained Defendants and sued for medical malpractice. The Defendant attorneys failed to timely re-calendar the case, which is the  basis for this legal malpractice claim.

Issue: Is there a valid legal malpractice claim?

Ruling: No. There is no issue of fact as to whether the treatment Plaintiff received at the Hospital constituted medical malpractice.

Lesson: In order to win a legal malpractice claim, a Plaintiff MUST prove that he could win the underlying case. Although it was troubling that Defendant attorneys failed to timely re-calendar the case, Plaintiff did not prove that he would have been successful in the underlying case but for the Defendant attorneys’ negligence.

“In order to prevail in a legal malpractice suit, the clients must prove that their former attorneys were negligent and that they could have prevailed and recovered a judgment but for that negligence.” Tanel v. Kreitzer & Vogelman, 293 A.D.2d 420

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Posted in: But for-Proximate Cause, Case Within a Case, New York, Torts/Personal Injury