The United States Law Week

Attorney Malpractice Suit Hoist With Timeliness Petard

Dec. 5, 2018, 4:33 PM

A malpractice suit against a New York law firm was properly dismissed because it was untimely, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said in a Dec. 4 summary order.

The claim against Cowan Liebowitz & Latman PC also wasn’t saved by the state’s continuous representation doctrine, the court said.

Under that doctrine, a limitations period is tolled while a firm continues to represent the client for the matter in which the alleged malpractice occurred, the court said.

But the tolling period lasts only as long as there is a mutual understanding between the client and firm that further legal services are needed, the court said. It ends once the client knows the firm is withdrawing from representation, it said.

Here, Amy Gurvey’s representation by the firm ended in December 2002, when she wrote it a letter accusing it of misappropriating her confidential information and indicating she would pursue the matter “vigorously,” the court said.

Under the applicable three-year limitation period, Gurvey’s complaint needed to be filed in December 2005, the court said. Because it wasn’t filed until February 2006, it was time barred, it said.

Judges Amalya L. Kearse, Debra Ann Livingston, and Susan L. Carney were on the panel.

Gurvey represented herself. Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP represented the firm.

The case is Gurvey v. Cowan Liebowitz & Latman PC, 2018 BL 445705, 2d Cir., No. 17-2760, 12/4/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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