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Court Grants Motion to Dismiss in Legal Malpractice Case

Case Study

Court Grants Motion to Dismiss in Legal Malpractice Case

April 21, 2023
Albert J. D'Aquino

An Erie County Supreme Court judge has tossed out a legal malpractice lawsuit brought by a plaintiff who alleged an attorney jeopardized the security of her personal financial information.

Goldberg Segalla attorney Arrianna Hart secured the favorable ruling on behalf of her client, who was sued for alleged negligence and causing the plaintiff emotional distress in a case that stemmed from a consumer credit transaction.

The plaintiff sued after non-redacted financial records containing her personal information were electronically filed by the defendant in Magistrate Court, Fulton County. The plaintiff claimed the attorney was negligent in handling her financial records, adding she was exposed to potential fraud and identity theft, which caused her to suffer emotional distress.

Arrianna, a member of Goldberg Segalla’s Commercial Litigation and Arbitration practice group, argued the plaintiff did not have a viable cause of action because the statute on which she based her suit did not create a private right of action. The statute, Arrianna maintained, allowed only for the Attorney General or a district attorney to bring an action in the name of the people of the state.

Arrianna also argued the plaintiff could not present evidence showing how the attorney’s action created a potential for fraud or identity theft, and, therefore, failed to establish negligence, emotional distress or actual injury or damage.

The court agreed and granted Arrianna’s motion to dismiss the case against her client.

The ruling has the potential to be used as precedent in future suits beyond professional liability as it affirms the precedent that a party cannot create a private right of action where the state Legislature did not seek to create one.

Arrianna credited Goldberg Segalla partner Albert J. D’Aquino for his guidance and assistance in defending the case, particularly when it came to developing an approach to litigating the issue of professional liability.