Zarwin Attorneys Obtain Dismissal of Legal Malpractice Claim
February 28, 2017
Lisa Z. Slotkin and Eitan D. Blanc successfully obtained the dismissal of a legal malpractice claim in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County. The dismissal was obtained in the early stages of pleadings through the filing of a motion to dismiss a third party complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The dismissed third party complaint was filed against Slotkin and Blanc’s client, a law firm, by insurance brokers who were sued by the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs alleged the insurance broker defendants failed to report a lawsuit to Plaintiffs’ insurer, resulting in a denial of coverage. The insurance broker defendants filed a third party complaint against two law firms who previously represented Plaintiffs. The insurance brokers argued the law firms were liable to Plaintiffs for allegedly failing to advise Plaintiffs to report the lawsuit to their insurance broker or insurer. Slotkin and Blanc successfully argued to the court that the Third Party Complaint should be dismissed because the facts and allegations pled did not satisfy the elements of a legal malpractice claim. Slotkin and Blanc also successfully argued the insurance broker’s claims under New Jersey’s Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Law failed because the alleged tortious acts of the insurance brokers and attorneys were separate and distinct.
Motions to dismiss are not liberally granted in New Jersey, and therefore are not often filed. However, such a motion can be a quick way of disposing of a claim which clearly lacks merit. Carriers and the lawyers they hire should take specific notice of whether a third party claim is proper and not hesitate to file a motion to dismiss a third party claim for contribution where the alleged conduct of the third party defendant and that of the direct defendant amount to torts which are separate and distinct.