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Park v. Reizes

December 15, 2009

CHARL-HO PARK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LESLIE N. REIZES; DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this diversity action asserting a claim of legal malpractice, filed by Charl-Ho Park ("Plaintiff"), is a motion for summary judgment filed by Leslie N. Riezes ("Defendant"). (Dkt. No. 23, Part 1.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Claims

Liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendant committed legal malpractice in the following ways: (1) he improperly advised Plaintiff of his legal rights regarding the padlocking of the premises in question; (2) he improperly advised Plaintiff of the amount that Plaintiff's tenants needed to pay to cure a default; (3) he failed to assert affirmative defenses and counterclaims on behalf of Plaintiff in an action filed against Plaintiff; and/or (4) he breached his professional duty by abandoning Plaintiff on the eve of trial, thereby causing Plaintiff to lose that action. (Dkt. No. 1 [Plf.'s Compl.].) Familiarity with the other factual allegations supporting Plaintiff's malpractice claim is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties.

B. Undisputed Material Facts

In 1998, Defendant was an attorney practicing law in New York and Florida. At the time, Plaintiff retained Defendant in New York to represent him in two related matters: (1) the sale of his convenience store/gas station business to Ga Young Lee and Chea Lee; and (2) the preparation of documents to lease to the Lees the building where the business is located, and various property used in the operation of the business. Approximately three years after the sale of the business, Plaintiff noticed that the Lees were rarely opening the store and were late on various payments owed to Plaintiff. Plaintiff also had some concerns over the security of the property while the Lees were absent. For that reason he asked his wife to padlock the premises. After the padlocking, Plaintiff relayed the story of the Lees' disappearance to Defendant. As a result, Defendant prepared a Three-Day Notice to Tenants, stating that the Lees' defaults gave Plaintiff the right to terminate the lease and seek eviction. Thereafter, Plaintiff and Mr. Lee met to discuss settlement of the issues between them. However, a few weeks later, the agreed-upon settlement fell through. Plaintiff then operated the Lees' business at a profit for approximately two years, earning a net income of $79,639.00. The Lees subsequently commenced an action against Plaintiff to recover that income. In that action, Plaintiff never filed a counterclaim against the Lees. Twenty days before trial, Defendant withdrew as counsel for Plaintiff, arranging for substitute counsel. The Lees were successful at trial. (Compare Dkt. No. 23, Part 3 [Def.'s Rule 7.1 Statement of Material Facts] with Dkt. No. 26, Part 3 [Plf.'s Counter-Statement of Material Facts].)

Familiarity with the remaining undisputed material facts of this action, as well as the disputed material facts, as set forth in the parties' Rule 7.1 Statement and Rule 7.1 Response, is assumed in this Decision and Order, which (again) is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

C. Defendants' Motion

Generally, in support of his motion for summary judgment, Defendant argues as follows:

(1) he did not breach any duty to Plaintiff (thereby causing Plaintiff any harm) by failing to advise him against padlocking the premises in question; (2) he did not breach any duty to Plaintiff (thereby causing Plaintiff any harm) by providing advise regarding the amount that the Lees owed Plaintiff to cure the default; (3) he did not breach any duty to Plaintiff (thereby causing Plaintiff any harm) by failing to assert a counterclaim before trial; and (4) he did not breach any duty to Plaintiff (thereby causing Plaintiff any harm) by withdrawing as counsel 20 days before trial. (See generally Dkt. No. 23, Part 2 [Def.'s Memo. of Law].)

In Plaintiff's response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff disputes each of these four arguments. (See generally Dkt. No. 26, Part 1[Plf.'s Response Memo. of Law].)

II. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Legal Standard Governing Motions for ...


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