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New York Attorneys Prevail in Professional Liability Matter

New York City Partner Angela M. Stenroos and Attorney Joseph Dimitrov represented a Homeowners Association (HOA) client in a recent action put forth by Plaintiff, a unit owner within the HOA condominium complex. Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a summons with notice in the Dutchess County Supreme Court against our client. Without Plaintiff’s accompanying Complaint, after demanding the same be filed, our attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the action of opposing counsel alleging our client defrauded Plaintiff.

Plaintiff’s action was brought to the Court six years after a fire occurred at the condominium building, and after our client’s insurance coverage paid unit owners for construction and repairs to their respective properties. At the time the insurance carrier was making payments, Plaintiff was in arrears of common charges and assessments, and was not considered a beneficiary of the monies paid by the carrier for such repairs. Despite Plaintiff’s objections that she was not in arrears, and that she was current in payments, Plaintiff claims the check was lost. Additionally, Plaintiff failed to file an affidavit affirming the same, and relied solely on her Counsel’s affirmation.

Although the Court initially granted Plaintiff additional time to file a Complaint, Plaintiff failed to do so before the deadline and our attorneys again moved to dismiss, noting that Plaintiff disregarded the Court’s prior order.

Plaintiff’s Counsel petitioned for another extension, citing personal and health reasons for the delay. They also cited law office failure in their petition, claiming that Plaintiff’s Complaint was not filed due to their misunderstanding of certain deadlines set forth by the Court. Due to their alleged misunderstanding, Plaintiff’s Counsel chose to focus their efforts on litigating other matters, even successfully winning at trial.

Angela and Joe noted that the law office was in fact operating and litigating other matters, and trying cases. Our attorneys concluded that Counsel’s actions were more so a willful disregard of the Court’s Order than an office failure as Plaintiff’s affidavit and Complaint were both not filed.

The sole allegations made against the insured were raised by Counsel, without any first-hand knowledge thereof.

The Court recognized that Counsel’s failure to submit an affidavit or Complaint undermined their law office failure argument, and further that their boasting of their prior trial victory undercut the Court’s sympathy pertaining to any ongoing obstacles. The Court agreed that extending Plaintiff’s time to file a Complaint combined with their failure to file an affidavit or proposed Complaint, justified dismissing the action in favor of our client.

Angela focuses her legal practice on professional liability, insurance defense, medical malpractice and general litigation. She provides counsel to co-op and condominium association board members, municipalities, hospitality and service industry professionals, commercial and industrial warehouse executives and managers, independent builders and contractors.

Joe concentrates his practice on insurance defense, general litigation and general negligence. He also handles professional, premises and motor vehicle liability matters, as well as employment liability claims including wage and hour disputes. Joe provides counsel to co-op and condominium association board members.